Workers in Philippines support moves to resume peace talks
Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement from trade unionists in the Philippines.
National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) welcomed the news that President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday ordered Peace Secretary Jesus Dureza to resume the stalled peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
“The President’s willingness to continue the peace talks is a positive step,” said KMU chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog. “The labor sector is a major stakeholder in this issue, and we have always supported calls to resume peace talks, recognizing the need for broad social, economic, and political reforms to improve the quality of life of all Filipinos.”
The Duterte administration unilaterally terminated the peace talks last November 2017, a move criticized by various groups and sectors in the country, including KMU. NDFP consultant and labor advocate Rafael “Raffy” Baylosis was also arrested on January this year on trumped-up charges.
“In order to demonstrate his sincerity and good faith, we call on the President to release Raffy Baylosis and all other political prisoners immediately,” said Labog.
KMU called on the Duterte administration to uphold and respect existing agreements with the NDFP, including the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
“The continuing detention of Raffy Baylosis violates those agreements. It is not a good note on which to reopen peace negotiations,” Labog added.
KMU also urged the government to prioritize the drafting of a joint Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reform (CASER) between the GRP and the NDFP.
“CASER is a major step forward in addressing the roots of armed conflict in the country,” Labog said. “Peace is not just a matter of laying down arms. There can be no genuine peace in the Philippines as long as the rights of marginalized Filipinos, especially workers and peasants, are not recognized and protected.”