The Assert Socio Economic Initiatives Network (ASCENT) is saddened with the signing of Proclamation No. 360 by President Duterte ending the peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the government.
Days before the official announcement, both panels were able to draft documents on social and economic reforms that would have benefited the millions of Filipino peasants and workers. Among the documents prepared were agreements on agrarian reform and rural development, national industrialization, and economic development. If the peace talks pushed through, farmers would have finally been able to enjoy free land distribution. Moreover, the scope and coverage of agrarian reform would have included plantations and large-scale commercial farms covered by various schemes such as leasehold agreements, joint ventures, and non-land transfer. Measures eliminating usurious lending and trading practices at the expense of poor peasants were also drafted.
“As an organization that promotes socio-economic projects all over the country in order to provide social services to the poor and marginalized, the ending of the peace talks is a real disappointment to us”, said Bishop Dindo Ranojo, spokesperson of ASCENT.
“The supposed fifth round of talks scheduled this month would have paved the way for the improvement of the lives all Filipinos, especially those living in rural communities. It would have meant land tenure, food security, just wages, decent jobs, and real development for the people. It is such a shame that President Duterte found an excuse to cancel all negotiations”, added Ranojo.
“If the peace talks were a success, it would have meant the eventual resolution of the armed conflict between the state security forces and the New People’s Army (NPA). President Duterte must realize that just and lasting peace would only be possible in our country through reforms in economic and social policies of the government”, he concluded.