AN OPPOSITION lawmaker who is part of a progressive bloc in Congress called for the revival of peace talks with the communist movement in response to President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s “unity” campaign.
House Deputy Minority Leader France L. Castro said true unity would only be possible if the Philippine government reopens peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
The NDFP is a coalition of left-wing organizations and is considered as the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
“President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s wish for unity in the country can only be achieved if the inequalities plaguing the Philippines are addressed,” the ACT Teachers Party-list representative said in a statement on Monday, the 54th founding anniversary of the CPP.
“The peace negotiations have gained milestone agreements since 1992. Ironically, the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and NDFP panels were set to formally sign a number of agreements, important components of an aspired-for Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reform (CASER) that would address the root causes of the armed conflict, when President Duterte unilaterally ‘terminated’ the peace talks in November 2017,” Ms. Castro said.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who immediately called for a resumption of peace talks with Maoist rebels at the start of his term in July 2016, ordered a withdrawal of negotiations in early 2017, citing continued attacks by members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed groups of the CPP.
In a Twitter video uploaded by the Office of the President on Christmas day, Mr. Marcos said, “I pray that the promise of a comfortable and beautiful future will give hope to each Filipino. Let us have faith that if we help each other, that we would fulfill this promise. Most of all, let us open our hearts to the spirit of unity.”
Unity was also the battlecry Mr. Marcos’ 2022 presidential campaign.
“Under the Marcos administration’s banner of unity, the government should vigorously carry out interventions in order to sustain and build on the gains we have achieved under the peace process,” Peace Secretary Carlito G. Galvez Jr. said in a Dec. 17 statement following the passing of CPP’s founding chairman Jose Maria C. Sison.
Mr. Galvez, who served the same position under Mr. Duterte, had previously expressed support to the localized peace talks strategy adopted by the former president after he declared a permanent end to the negotiations with the NDFP-CPP.
The localized peace talks are carried out alongside the rollout of social and economic program in communities with NPA presence.
Police and military leaders had said that the NPA are a waning force on the ground.
On Monday, the police presented at least 55 alleged former NPA rebels who surrendered to authorities.
Ms. Castro, however, said, “No amount of fake news, red tagging and presentation of fake surrenderers can change the fact that there are glaring inequalities present in Philippine society. If these are not addressed then it will only worsen until the present oppressive and exploitative system is replaced by a more just and humane compensation.” — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz