July 18, 2011
After hitting a snag on the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) issue, the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) could resume with the recent visit of Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan to the rebel coalition’s headquarters in Utrecht, the Netherlands, early this month.
“We took the initiative to go there after conferring with our government representatives,” Pangilinan said. He presented his proposals for resolving socioeconomic and political problems to Luis Jalandoni, chairman of the NDF negotiating panel, and Prof. Jose Maria Sison, NDF chief political consultant.
The NDF has said it would seriously study Pangilinan’s proposal. Jalandoni agreed with Pangilinan that there is an urgent need for the peace negotiations to move forward as the Philippines faces mounting problems and Filipinos want genuine reforms to be instituted under the Aquino administration.
“No progressive nation became prosperous while facing an armed conflict. The peace initiatives during the Ramos presidency created a window of opportunity for development in Mindanao. We would not have developed cities such as General Santos, Cagayan de Oro and Davao City if it weren’t for a cease-fire agreement,” Pangilinan pointed out.
Pangilinan said he was a student activist during the Marcos dictatorship and thus he “fully understands the cause they [the NDF] are fighting for.”
“Personally I want my children to see peace in our country happen in our lifetime. It took the Irish Republican Army 90 years from the time of its creation to agree to peaceful means of resolving the armed conflict in Northern Ireland. We should follow their lead and forge our own historic date of peace and unity sometime in the near future,” the senator said.
“The government has been talking peace with the NDF since the restoration of democracy in 1986. That’s 25 years of on-and-off peace negotiations. Surely we can do better than this. If this is all we can offer, then it’s a shame. The results we have achieved are unacceptable. We deserve more. Our people, our children, deserve better, and the Aquino administration has the unique opportunity to finally make things right,” he said.
I totally agree with this position, and hope that the two sides would finally agree to go back to the negotiating table.
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