Friday, March 29, 2013

Negros CSOs stress need for more active people’s participation in GPH-NDF talks

Negros CSOs stress need for more active people’s participation in GPH-NDF talks

At a recent public dialogue in Bacolod City called by the Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel, Negros Occidental-based civil society organizations (CSOs) voiced the need for greater involvement of all sectors in the peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF).
Peace Advocates of Negros representative Francis Yulo highlighted the importance of bringing the discussion of issues down to the grassroots level. “Mahalaga yung stakeholders engagement (Stakeholders engagement is important) to localize the whole thing (peace process),” he told the forum where GPH peace panel chair Alexander Padilla and panel member Maria Lourdes Tison were present.
Ted Lopez of the Alter Trade Foundation welcomed the effort of the government to expand the avenues of engagement with the CSOs in its pursuit of peace.
“Dinadala ko ang sentimyento ng mga CSOs na noon pa nagsasabi na bakit gobyerno tsaka NDF lang ang nag-uusap, samantalang ang magiging resulta ng peace negotiations—kung may maipipinal man sila—ay babalikatin ng mamamayan.  So bakit hindi ma-involve yung mga tao sa proseso pa lang  para mapakinggan ng gobyerno at NDF kung ano ang pagtingin ng civil society? (I bring the sentiments of the CSOs who are asking why the talks have been confined between the government and the NDF alone, when the result of the peace negotiations—assuming they can finalize anything—will be shouldered by the people. So why not involve them in the process, so that the government and NDF can take into account the perspective of civil society?). Furthermore he noted that the interests of peace shall be better served if government invests even more in development projects and poverty alleviation programs.
Another forum participant asserted that the “people’s agenda” is being overshadowed by the CPP/NPA/NDF’s “political agenda”, “Ngayon, hindi na namin nakikita yung people’s agenda sa peace talks; political agenda na lang ni Joma. Matagal na nilang (CPP/NPA/NDF) ginagamit ang rason na yung kanilang ginagawa ay ‘para sa tao, para sa tao,’ pero ang tao hindi naman yan nararamdaman sa 27 years ng peace talks na yan. (Today, we no longer see the people’s agenda in the peace talks; all we see is Joma’s political agenda. They have always used the reason that what they are doing is ‘for the people,’ but for 27 years, the people never felt that sentiment).”
In response, Tison, who facilitated the dialogue, noted that even after 27 years of peace talks, peoples’ lives are still being constantly disrupted. This is the reason why the GPH peace panel wants to “look for other ways to win the peace” through engagements with different sectors.
On the other hand, Padilla stressed the government’s commitment “to a peaceful resolution of the armed conflict” and that the consultation is an opportune time to search for “a new initiative,” which will “allow the public to participate.”
“The government did not scuttle the talks,” Padilla said, in reference to the NDF claim on the contrary. He added that “it was Joma himself who backtracked” in February 2013 on his December 18, 2012 proposal for a “special track (ST)”. This process was expected to result in a declaration of ceasefire towards permanent peace, and creation of a Committee for National Unity.
“Sooner or later, magkakaroon ng peace—at paniwala ko naman yan (There will be peace – I believe that),” said Padilla. “Maybe in another 27 years, maybe next week, hindi natin alam (we don’t know).  Pero walang ibang paraan (para makamit ang kapayapaan) kung hindi idadaan sa pakikipag-usap sa kapwa mo nang masinsinan. Makipag-debate ka. Walang dapat idaan sa dulo ng baril. At lalong mapapabilis ang lahat kung may involvement ng bawat isa sa inyo (But there is no other way to achieve peace but through negotiations. We should not do anything through the barrel of a gun. And we can hasten the peace process if each one of you is involved in it.).” #

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