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DAVAO CITY – The National Democratic Front (NDF) wants the New People’s Army (NPA) to keep its arms to be able to protect farmers, communities and forests after the signing of peace agreement with the government.
NDF panel chair Luis Jalandoni told a press forum that its armed wing will be helpful in making communities safe and assisting in land reform.
“The AFP (Armed Forces) and NPA, wala ng away – ano ngayon ang gagawin? Sabi namin ang NPA hindi magsusurender ng arms, gagamitin pa din nila to defend yung gma communities at lahat itong organizations at tutulong sila sa land reform and industrialization pwede rin silang maging forest guards para i-prevent ang deforestation,” he said.
The government (GRP) and the NDF have been exchanging drafts on the unified ceasefire agreement that will bind both of them ahead of the second round of peace negotiations slated on the Oct. 6-10 in Oslo, Norway.
GRP panel member Angela Librado-Trinidad said the bilateral agreement is necessary so that both panels will be free to move around to hold consultations with the stakeholders on the substantive agenda, most especially the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-economic Reforms (CASER).
Jalandoni said that both panels agreed to revitalize the the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
“Pwede mag-file ng complaints ‘dyan pwede compaints ng mga lumad matatake up ‘dyan. Meron din meeting ng ceasefire committees na magprepare para ang problema ng unilateral ceasefire ay mapagusapan at saka, magtake ng steps para maging bilateral ceasefire documents na more stable,” he said.
He said the JMC has been existing even during the past Aquino administration, where peace talks with the NDF had been stalled due to the non-release of political prisoners identified as their consultants, but it was “not very functional.”
“In the past administration, the JMC was not very functional, may tao kasi nagre-receive ng complaints pero yung joint secretariat dapat under JMC. Yung GRP side sabi nila kung walang meeting ng two panels ay hindi pwede mag-meeting ang JMC. ‘Yun ang naging patakaran kaya hindi namaximize,” he said.
He said members of the JMC met at the Norwegian embassy in the country to discuss how they could maximize the functions of the committee and make it more efficient.