Farmers call for government-rebels talks

CLARK FREEPORT — The Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) and Anakpawis Party-list-Central Luzon called for the resumption of peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF).

The groups said they are concerned about the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL) that was signed by both the NDF and government in 1998, as well as the present socio-economic reforms, particularly on land reform and nationalist industrialization.

“We are pushing for the resume of the peace talks as it deliberate about the roots of the armed conflict. In our region, it is caused by the massive landlessness and poverty among farmers. Historically, the grave abuse against poor farmers are what pushes them to the armed struggle,” said Joseph Canlas, AMGL chair and Anakpawis Party-list regional coordinator.

The groups said the government must adhere to the previous agreements, such as The Hague Joint Declaration in 1992, the Joint Agreement on Security Immunities and Guarantees (Jasig), the CAHRIHL and other agreements on the framework and conduct of the negotiations.

The previous agreements mainly clarified the framework and conduct, such as the political and legal framework, which is not constrained from each other’s constitution but is mainly guided by mutually-accepted principles such as national sovereignty, democracy, human rights and social justice.

The talks should be held on neutral grounds and confidence-building measures performed.

“The Aquino government must realize that the accomplishments of the peace talks are bigger than his administration, the previous agreements were the result of the pain-staking, strenuous and patient effort between the two parties. Aquino should be humble enough to consider the history of the talks,” Canlas said.

The groups are insisting on the resumption of the negotiations in order for the implementation of the CAHRIHL to push through. Land reform and nationalist industrialization are also the main components of the socio-economic reform agenda of the peace talks.

“We clearly remember when our leaders and members became victims of rights abuses during the implementation of Arroyo’s counter-insurgency plan Oplan Bantay Laya. Thus, we want the human rights agreement to be implemented,” Canlas said.

The groups also reacted to presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda’s pronouncement that “nationalist industrialization is passé.”

“It is really mind-boggling how the Aquino government could issue statements like that, when everybody knows that our agriculture is clearly backward, relying on carabaos and no modern machineries are utilized,” Canlas said.

The groups said there is also no national industry the country could claim, adding that mining, energy, steel, chemicals, manufacturing and other intermediary industries are either monopolized or controlled by foreign corporations.

“Even the engine of hand tractors are either imported from China or Japan, while those big tractors are from the US. Motor engines used in small fishing boats are imported from China, US, Germany and Japan. Motor pumps, agro-chem and other needs for agriculture are imported. Thus, agriculture is really dependent on imports as there is no national industry to depend on,” he added.

AMGL and Anakpawis Party-list said the Aquino government is preserving the export-oriented and import-dependent character of the country’s economy, which is essentially semi-feudal and opposite of the direction to national development.

“It is really an insult to the poor farmers and sectors for the government to deny the root causes of poverty. As landlessness is still chronic and national industry remains illusory, poor sectors are driven to struggle, even bearing arms against the exploitative and oppressive social and economic system,” Canlas said.


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