Senator Loren Legarda expressed her support for the resumption of the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Legarda made the statement in support of House Resolution No. 1803 authored by 61 congressmen urging President Rodrigo Duterte to resume the peace talks with the NDFP.
“I support the resumption of the peace talks. Stalling the negotiations could only lead to more deaths and suffering and neither the government nor the NDFP will win,” she stressed.
“As someone who has been involved in facilitating releases of captives by the New People’s Army (NPA) when I was a neophyte senator, I have seen the sincerity of all sides to this conflict and have witnessed the intense desire for peace,” said Legarda, who actively participated in the safe releases of General Victor Obillo, Captain Eduardo Montealto, Sergeant Alpio Lozada, Major Roberto Bernal and then Major Noel Buan, among other military and police officials who were held captive by the NPA.
The veteran legislator said that both sides want to address issues affecting Filipinos such as poverty, landlessness, lack of employment and livelihood opportunities, underemployment, lack of access to housing services, affordable health care, education and other social services, corruption, environmental degradation, among many others.
“We should resume the peace talks and continue discussions on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), which is considered the ‘heart and soul’ of the peace talks,” the seasoned lawmaker said.
“We all desire a just and lasting peace. We may have different views on how to pursue national development, but I believe we can find our common ground,” the lady senator added.
We may have different views on how to pursue national development, but I believe we can find our common ground.
Legarda, who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance, also assured that the national budget would support the NDFP’s socio-economic reform agenda.
“Many of the items in the NDFP’s socio-economic reform agenda can already be addressed through existing laws and programs. In fact, the 2018 national budget has provided funding for free public tertiary education and additional funding for our state universities and colleges, free health care services in government hospitals, free irrigation services for small farmers, more budget for social welfare programs, and increased funding to support rural livelihoods and micro, small and medium enterprises. Our laws on environmental protection are already in place and, as author of most of these laws, I am glad that we are gradually seeing stricter enforcement,” she explained.
“The Philippine Government and the NDFP should resume peace talks to come up with agreements that are acceptable to both parties and beneficial to the Filipino people. Our people have a huge stake in the peace negotiations, the success of which is a step towards a brighter future for generations to come, ” Legarda concluded.