MANILA –Some lawmakers at the House of Representatives on Tuesday appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his stance over the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the wake of the military’s declaration of an “all-out war” against the New People’s Army (NPA).
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana made the pronouncement following President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to lift the government truce and suspend peace talks with the communist group.
Gabriela Rep. Emmi De Jesus said an “all-out war” against communist rebels would only bring the Duterte administration “back to square one”, thwarting significant strides made in previous agreements such as the framework for the comprehensive agenda on socioeconomic reforms.
“We express serious concern over (Defense) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s statement as it is a signal fire for a repeat of the bloody counterinsurgency war of past administrations,” said De Jesus.
”Going full-throttle against perceived communists will only worsen the militarization of communities across the country and escalate the human rights violations on civilians,” she added.
De Jesus said a militarist approach would further entrench the root causes of armed conflict.
“It has brought unrest to communities, military occupation of Lumad schools, and displacement of thousands of families,” the Gabriela lawmaker said.
De Jesus urged both panels to exhaust all options to go back to the negotiating table, saying what was most important at this point was the discussion of long-term solutions to the impoverishment of the Filipino people.
Bayan Muna Rep.Carlos Isagani Zarate, for his part, denounced the “all-out war” declaration, noting that the Philippine government-NDFP peace process is not yet officially terminated in accordance with signed and binding agreements.
Zarate was referring to the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees, which states that the peace talks can only be terminated upon the issuance of a written notice by one party to the other.
The said notice would take effect thirty days from its receipt.
Zarate reiterated his call for the President to “give the quest for peace another chance” by allowing both parties to iron out agreements for a bilateral ceasefire as well as socioeconomic, political and constitutional reforms.
Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman warned against the possibility of a martial law declaration, describing it as a “perilous aspect” of the recent development after the collapse of peace talks.
“It will not only abrogate the peace process but would also intensify the determination to declare martial law based on the all-out war against supposed rebels,” Lagman said.
The 1987 Constitution specifies that the president could impose martial law for just 60 days and only to stop an invasion or a rebellion. Congress can revoke the measure within 48 hours while the Supreme Court can review its legality.