PAMALAKAYA calls for resumption of peace talks between gov’t and NDFP

PAMALAKAYA calls for resumption of peace talks between gov’t and NDFP

Manila, Philippines – The progressive fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Tuesday expressed support to the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), which were stalled since 2017.

“Prior to its bogging in 2017, the parties already reached the agreement on the common frameworks and outlines of the last three substantive agendas of peace talks, namely, the Comprehensive Agreement on Socioeconomic Reforms (CASER), political and constitutional reforms, and the cessation of hostilities/disposition of forces. We always support the carrying out of the talks as it is a venue to address the root causes of the decades-long armed conflict, predominantly based on landlessness in the countryside, which is a scourge to tens of millions of Filipino poor peasants and rural-based sectors,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

The fishers group is enthusiastic about the inclusion of marine and aquatic reforms, stated as Article VI Agrarian Reform and Rural Development sub-agenda of the NDFP’s CASER draft. It upholds the rights and welfare of poor fisherfolk in the country and prohibits overexploitation of fishing grounds and incursion of foreign vessels such as Chinese in the country’s exclusive economic zones (EEZs).

“We are hopeful that NDFP’s CASER draft will uplift the fishing sector from being the ‘poorest of the poor’ in the country,” Hicap claimed as poverty incidence among the fisherfolk reaches to more than 40%.

Meanwhile, PAMALAKAYA warned against “peace-saboteurs” in the government who would “get in the way” of the peace talks. The fisherfolk group also called for the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), created by the Executive Order No. 70 and is headed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“While the Duterte administration jabbers about peace, its armed forces, on the other hand, wage a total war, not differentiating between armed actors and unarmed civilians, generating human rights abuses in peaceful peasant communities. The continuous militarization of rural communities and presence of this NTF run contrary to confidence-building and a blot to the government’s sincerity to the talks,” Hicap added.

The fisherfolk group, along with various activist organizations on Tuesday held a protest in front of the Department of National Defense (DND) office in Quezon City to demand the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) not to sabotage the peace talks.

Lastly, the fisherfolk group calls for immediate and unconditional release of political prisoners, especially those who are sickly and elderly; scrap the EO 70 and the Memorandum Order No. 32 ordering attack against activists in the provinces of Negros, Samar, and Bicol region. ###

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