Restart of peace talks PBBM’s ‘brave’ move to attain peaceful nation

By Zaldy De Layola

November 29, 2023, 3:22 pm Updated on November 29, 2023, 6:10 pm

<p>House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez <em>(File photo)</em></p>

House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez (File photo)

MANILA – The decision of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to restart peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) shows his willingness to listen to communist rebels’ grievances and attain a peaceful, united and progressive nation, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said on Wednesday.

Romualdez said the House fully supports the decision of the President to reopen the negotiations to restart formal peace talks with NDF, the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

“Ito ay isang matapang at mahalagang hakbang tungo sa layunin nating makamit ang isang mapayapa, nagkakaisa, at progresibong bansa (This is a brave and important step towards our goal of achieving a peaceful, united, and progressive nation),” Romualdez said in a statement.

“Bilang lider ng ating bansa, ipinakita ng ating Pangulo ang kahandaan na makinig sa mga hinaing ng mga kapatid nating rebelde at maghanap ng solusyon para tuluyan nang matuldukan ang lahat ng kaguluhan sa ating mga komunidad (As the leader of our country, our President has shown his willingness to listen to the grievances of our rebel brothers and find a solution to finally end all the unrest in our communities),” he added.

On Tuesday, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. announced that the Philippine government and NDF have agreed to a “principled and peaceful resolution of the armed conflict” after signing a joint statement in Oslo, Norway on Nov. 23.

“Ikinagagalak din namin ang pagiging bukas ng CPP-NDF-NPA na makipag-ugnayang muli sa ating pamahalaan at makipagtulungan para wakasan ang kahirapan at iba pang sakit ng lipunan na nagiging sanhi ng pag-aaklas (We also welcome the openness of the CPP-NPA-NDF to negotiate again with our government and work together to end poverty and other social ills that cause rebellion),” Romualdez said.

He said reopening of negotiations does not mean both sides have to call a ceasefire but “just the beginning of a long road we have to travel towards peace.”

The House leader is hoping that there will be no conditions that may derail the peace talks.

“Hindi dapat mawalan ng loob ang dalawang panig anuman ang balakid na haharapin nila sa negosasyon (Both sides should not lose hope regardless of the obstacles they will face in the negotiations),” he added.

Romualdez also urged every Filipino to support the Marcos administration’s decision to restart peace talks with CPP-NPA-NDF.

“Ang paglalakbay patungo sa kapayapaan ay mahaba at masalimuot ngunit bawat hakbang ay isang hakbang palapit sa isang kinabukasan kung saan ang bawat Pilipino ay maaaring mabuhay nang may dignidad at kasaganaan (The journey to peace is long and complicated but each step is a step closer to a future where every Filipino can live with dignity and prosperity),” he said.

On Nov. 23, 2017, former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Proclamation 360 declaring the termination of peace negotiations with CPP-NPA-NDF, citing the communists’ supposed failure to show sincerity to the peace process.

Galvez clarified that there will be no resumption of talks, saying “we will start anew.”

He said the Philippine government and the NDF will likely meet by the first quarter of 2024.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian also urged the public to support the peace process, describing it a breakthrough that “should help propel us to having a peaceful and progressive country.”

“Ang makabuluhang hakbang na ito ay patunay ng dedikasyon ng parehong panig sa kapakanan at kaunlaran ng mamamayang Pilipino (This significant step is a proof of dedication of both sides for the welfare and progress of the Filipino people),” he said in a news release.

Gatchalian said the prospect of achieving a meaningful and relevant resolution with communist rebels should drive a whole-of-government approach that would bring about economic development.

“This reflects a shared commitment to prioritize diplomacy over conflict, fostering an environment conducive to understanding and cooperation,” he said.

“I hope that this development will lead to a cessation of hostilities, one that we can sustain moving forward for the benefit of communities in the countryside directly impacted by the conflict,” he added. 

The military and the police also welcomed the exploratory talks being pursued by the government as a solution to the five-decade-long communist armed struggle in the country.

In a statement Wednesday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the initiative would save precious lives, especially members of the NPA.

"The willingness of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to pursue peaceful means of effecting societal reforms, other than armed struggle, is also a welcome development. We expect that all members of the underground movement will follow its lead," it said.

The AFP also noted that the move complements the recent amnesty proclamations issued by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. aimed at uniting Filipinos for the common good.

It, however, said the military would continue with its campaign to defeat all armed threats to the security of the people and the state.

The Philippine National Police (PNP), meanwhile, said the move is a significant step toward achieving a more peaceful, prosperous, and unified country.

In a separate statement, PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo expressed hope that the inclusive participation of all stakeholders, good faith, and genuine effort of all parties concerned would result in sustainable peace.

"We stand ready to contribute in any capacity to the realization of the agreements set forth in this joint communiqué. It is our fervent hope that this significant development paves the way for a future marked by unity, understanding, and peace," she added. (with report from Leonel Abasola/Priam Nepomuceno and Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)