KABATAAN Partylist welcomes the joint resolution to resume the GRP-NDFP peace talks and call on the Filipino youth and the people to make this an opportunity to intensify their just struggles and demands.
This should start with the immediate investigation of armed hostilities and atrocities committed during the ceasefire declarations as well as after the suspension of the peace talks, including the killings, illegal arrests and harassment of legal activists and civilians and the displacement of communities, and other atrocities ongoing under the AFP’s Oplan Kapayapaan.
Among such cases are the illegal arrest of BAYAN Metro Manila officer Ferdinand Castillo, the bomb attacks on Lumad communities in Sarangani, and the recent forced confinement of residents in a school in Nasugbu, Batangas.
As of March 2, twenty civilians were already killed after the GRP and NDFP terminated its unilateral ceasefire and Duterte declared all-out war. This month, among the victims are Ramon and Leonela Pesadilla, anti-mining advocates and Lumad sympathizers from Compostela Valley.
Another motive of the GRP in resuming the peace talks exposes itself as statements from Duterte and spokespersons Bello and Dureza point to the talks being exploited for capitulation and pacification. In December, Duterte even treated the political prisoners as “trump cards” by demanding a bilateral ceasefire even before, and in exchange for their release.
The GRP’s initiative is also unstable in the midst of the fascist atmosphere being set up by the administration’s all-out offensives on the people. Just this week, the death penalty bill is passed in Congress, and the war on drugs is relaunched as “Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded.” Duterte also floated on Thursday the proposal of imposing martial law on Mindanao.
The Duterte administration should stop fostering an atmosphere of peace based on silence and capitulation, and pursue the peace talks with utmost sincerity by upholding the previous signed agreements of the CARHRIHL and JASIG, immediately stopping the all-out war on the people, and upholding the pledge to release the 400 and counting political prisoners.
The AFP and its commander-in-chief Duterte should also be held accountable for previous violations of the GRP’s unilateral ceasefire and for their heightened all-out offensives. The immediate investigation of the aforementioned violations should be included as part of the next round of talks. Their continued terror against the people remains the largest stumbling block to genuine and just peace.
The concerns of the youth, including free education at all levels, should also be included in the agenda of the peace talks, especially as part of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER).
If the administration is sincere in promoting peace and change, then it should be based on addressing the root causes of poverty, criminality and armed conflict, and not on imposing fear and fascism against the people. ###