MANILA–Senate Pres. Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto on Monday urged the Philippine Government and National Democratic Front (NDF) to forge a ceasefire before the observance of Holy Week next month.
Recto’s call came after negotiators from both sides agreed to resume peace talks anew to finally put an end to almost five decades of armed conflict.
He said that a ceasefire before and during Holy Week will give soldiers and rebels the “opportunity to reunite with their loved ones” and for communities to observe it in “peace.”
“Whether unilaterally declared or mutually agreed, the people will welcome a break from fighting. If their time frame of brokering a ceasefire before April will be met, the peace negotiators couldn’t have picked a better time,” Recto said.
“It is the right time because we don’t want the solemnity of Lent broken by needless bloodletting among brothers,” he added.
Recto also said that a ceasefire will allow both sides to focus “on substantive issues such as socio-economic and political reforms that will uproot the causes of insurgency.”
He pointed out that a ceasefire also allow government forces to pour more resources, manpower and materiel, into the all-out war being waged against the Abu Sayyaf.
“We support the President’s effort to wave the olive branch to those willing to talk peace. But we also support his call for arms against bandits and terrorists like the Abu Sayaff,” Recto said.
The senator, meanwhile, welcomed the efforts of both sides to return to the negotiating table.
He said that with guns silent, both sides will be able to hear clearly the proposals that will bring just and lasting peace in the country.
“I am glad that negotiators from the GRP and the NDF stood firm and defied the odds to bring peace back to our land,” Recto said. “Our people have spoken loud and clear: we need to stop this violence.”
“If there is one lesson learned in this negotiation, it is useless to talk peace if both sides continue to shoot at each other. Let the hawks take a rest,” he added.