Government peace panel attends NPA meet. Top communist consultants also present. 48th anniversary of CPP in Davao City.

Peace is not close.

PICS Courtesy: Global and wikipedia

PICS Courtesy: Global and wikipedia

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The heat was raining down like a thick sheet of fire but attendance at the gathering that took place was imperative. Because, it was the first National peace conference of the CPP, the party had made comprehensive arrangements.

It took place in a guerilla base of the New People’s Army and everyone who was someone wanted to attend. Eventually, it saw more than 25000 people braving the heat to be there.

The occasion happened to be the 48th founding anniversary of the CPP. A shining hammer and sickle in gold against the backdrop of crimson red greeted the visitors. It stood out in the middle of a gym in the Paquibato district of Davao City.

The peace conference also saw the most influential leaders of the National Democratic Front (NDF). Among others notable attendees included Senior Advisor Luis Jalandoni and negotiator Connie Ledesma.

NDF consultants Porferio Tuna, Ariel Arbitrario and Concha Araneta also turned up for the gathering.

In addition, the gathering also saw the presence of many high ranking government officials from the Duterte administration. They included:
1. Agrarian Reforms Secretary Rafael Mariano,
2. Silvestre Bell III, Chairman of the governmental peace panel,
3. Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno,
4. Liza Maza, Chief of the National Anti-poverty Commission, and
5. Under-Secretary Labor, Joel Maglungsod.

The gathering did not have the usual air of militancy and thundering speeches uttered with a challenging note. The central theme of peace dominated the environment and the idea of negotiating peace was in the air.

The presence of high government officials, the peace panel and the consultants provided an opportunity to talk peace. In effect, the preparations for the groundwork to hold peace talks with the government had begun.

Emphasis on land reforms

The communists will try to impress upon the government the need for genuine land reforms. That is the central theme and the point to emphasize during the negotiations with the government.

Thus, Jalandoni provided the direction for the negotiations and the benchmark for all forums of peace.

He stressed that, with farmers forming 75% of their population, land reforms assumed great significance. They are the key to the whole process for peace and its successful implementation.

Implementation would face severe hurdles, suggested Jalandoni; there will be stiff opposition from the companies and landlords. These powerful lobbies will never agree to the distribution of land to the farmers.

The hacenderos (landlords) would never agree to give up land; they need to be convinced to part with their lands. The chances of success are dim and would depend on the long, drawn out struggle ahead.

Evidently, the landlords and the companies will spare no efforts to prevent genuine agrarian reforms, Jalandoni stressed.
Finally, what is required is a determined peace panel and the mass support of the people to reach their goals. The ultimate fate of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (Caser), would depend on the people.

Consequently, it is the strength and determination of the mass movements for agrarian reform that will make the difference finally. The New people’s Army will continue with its planned agitation in areas where agrarian unrest continues.

NPA will stand shoulder to shoulder with the people at all times till the people need us, he said.

Jalandoni reiterated the strength of the relationship between the communists and President Duterte; it was necessary for the peace process. Furthermore, he asserted that this alliance with the President may prevent coups against the President.

However, the commitment of the communist movement is only that of a sympathetic ally, not beyond that.

The official commitment
Chief governmental peace negotiator, Bello impressed the total support of the Duterte administration to the peace process. Mr Duterte was committed to see it to its logical success, he said.
While the government is sympathetic to the political post haste, there had to be observance of certain legal formalities. The judicial requirements need compliance before implementing any such step, he said.
Hence, the release of 434 political prisoners, as demanded by the reds will need fulfillment of certain formalities. Interior Secretary Sueno informed that the government issued instructions to authorities of local governments to start interactions with the communist representative in their areas.
In conclusion, the interactions at grassroots level are likely to bear fruit in the foreseeable future, he said. This will pave the way towards a wholesome, lasting peace.

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Umrao singh
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Written for: Lars-Magnus Carlsson