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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chiz to GRP, NDF panels: Come up with timetable to seal peace pact

With barely 10 months to go before the Arroyo administration ends its term, opposition Senator Chiz Escudero yesterday urged both the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) to formulate a timetable in order to come up with a final peace agreement. 

"I congratulate both parties for breaking the impasse and deciding to go back to the negotiating table. Our people have long yearned for lasting peace in the countryside. Let us not disappoint them once more," Escudero said in a statement.

"Let us not waste more time bickering over issues that have long divided us. Let us instead try to bridge the gaps that have kept us from reaching our final goal and prove to the people that all this talk is not for show," he said. 

MalacaƱang and the NDF confirmed last week plans to resume talks in Norway this August as a result of informal meetings where both parties agreed to concessions which opened the way for the resumption of talks.

The NDF pulled out of the negotiations in 2004 when the United States and European Union included the CPP-NPA in their list of international terrorist organizations.

Escudero urged both parties to fast-track the talks by immediately implementing confidence-building measures aimed at creating the necessary environment that would push the negotiations forward.

Escudero said that instead of waiting for July 17 to lift the suspension of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), which grants immunity from arrest to members, consultants and staff of the NDF negotiating panel, the administration should do it immediately.

 The JASIG was suspended in September 2005 after both panels failed to agree to resume negotiations.

"This administration has only 10 months left to make a mark in our history. It should not squander this last chance for peace," he said. The 40-year communist-led insurgency is Asia's longest running guerrilla war.

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