Elated over the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), as a result of back channel talks in Utrecht, The Netherlands Sunday, Mindanao-based regional peacebuilding advocacy group the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), today urged both parties to fast track the implementation of all the agreements they had reached and work “to strengthen the civilian voice in the peace process.”
“It’s a very welcome development. It is proof that differences between two parties can still be settled by talking in sincere dialogue at the negotiating table. We are hopeful that the resumption of peace talks between the GRP and NDFP is a huge step towards attaining a just and lasting peace for the whole country“, said Gus Miclat, executive director of IID.
EMBED CIVILIAN, “VICTIMS” VOICES
“However, to achieve a more sustainable peace and genuine development for the country, the root causes of the armed conflict must be addressed and key economic reforms implemented as soon as possible. We are glad that the pending agenda in the upcoming formal talks are geared towards these issues. We, thus, urge both panels to devise a mechanism where they could embed and broaden voices from the ground: the lament and proposals of the victims of the armed conflict, women and children, the indigenous peoples and other sectors who, for the last five decades, have been mostly at the receiving end of this prolonged armed-conflict,” Miclat elaborated.
In a joint statement signed on March 11, both parties agreed not only to resume the formal talks but committed to reinstate their respective indefinite unilateral ceasefire declarations while working on an interim bilateral ceasefire agreement.
IID and its allied national network All-Out Peace (AOP) had called for the re-installation of the unilateral ceasefires in an earlier sign-on statement after the recent termination of the talks by President Duterte. Civil society groups and networks here and abroad including IID have been engaging and accompanying the peace process even before the resumption of the talks under the Duterte government. The next round of talks will be held in April.
“For us, the resumption of formal peace talks is an opportunity not only for the negotiating panels, but more importantly for the people to come out even more openly and articulate their vision for peace. Let this peace process be the venue to raise the just demands of the most vulnerable in times of war,” Miclat added.
“This positive development should, at the minimum, lead to the restoration of peace in the communities conducive to sustaining the momentum for the next round of talks. We urge both parties to continue to exercise respect for each other, and consistently harness confidence-building measures on the ground to prevent any armed skirmishes while the peace negotiation is ongoing.” Miclat concluded.