February 6, 2017
STATEMENT OF SEN. LEILA M. DE LIMA ON THE GOV'T RESPONSE TO NDF LIFTING OF CEASEFIRE
The major reason for the breakdown of the peace talks is being projected to be the CPP-NPA-NDFs lifting of its ceasefire with the government due to the non-release of so-called political prisoners.
There is a misconception here. A ceasefire is always a confidence-building measure, not a pre-condition to peace talks. The same is true with the release of political prisoners. The non-satisfaction of either is not a valid cause for the withdrawal of either the GPH or the NDF from the negotiating table. Peace talks can continue without a ceasefire or the release of political prisoners.
The GPH can pursue other confidence-building measures under the CAHRIHL that need not be exclusive on the release of political prisoners. At the same time, the NDF need not stubbornly demand the release of their comrades who, in the first place, have also committed crimes against the people, including human rights abuses.
No one here really has clean hands, especially not this administration which is guilty of sanctioning EJKs and other human rights violations in the war on drugs. But our people still want peace from both sides and a stop to all the killings. If we have to wait again until the next administration after another six years to start new peace talks, then, in the meantime, we must prepare more body bags for our soldiers. Expect more casualties among our brother soldiers and rebels as this war is fought with renewed vigor by both sides.
Asking our soldiers to now fight a two-pronged war, one against the poor as a substitute of the PNP in undertaking the EJKs in Operation Tokhang, and another against the NPA, is asking too much from the AFP. With this two-pronged war, we might see a severely weakened AFP which is certainly detrimental to national interest.
Tuesday, March 28
Monday, March 27