More than 60 reps call on Duterte to resume peace talks

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 25) — More than 60 members of the House of Representatives are asking President Rodrigo Duterte to resume peace talks with rebels.

The lawmakers filed House Resolution No. 1803 to urge the President to reopen peace negotiations between the government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The Resolution was received by the House on March 22.

The lawmakers said under the Duterte administration, talks between the government and rebels have "reached remarkable and unparalleled headway," after reaching four rounds of negotiations.

"Continuing the peace talks would benefit the Filipino people most of whom are poor peasants and workers, as the agreements on agrarian reform and national industrialization may address their issues and concerns and help provide relief for their economic hardships," they said.

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said he and other lawmakers are hoping the President heeds the call for "a just peace."

 

"We are also urging our other colleagues to also co-author the resolution as there is a more urgent need and reason now to continue the GRP-NDFP peace process in the midst of escalating clashes between the military and the communist rebels," he said in a statement.

Zarate added the talks should continue even if armed conflict between both sides are ongoing as the best way to deal with the conflict is through peace talks.

Peace talks ended in November 2017, after Duterte signed Proclamation 360 declaring the termination of peace negotiations with the NDFP-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) -the New People's Army (NPA).

The CPP is the mother organization, while the NDF is its political arm negotiating with the government. The NPA is the armed wing.

Presidential Peace Process Adviser Jesus Dureza said the decision to end the talks was in response to frequent attacks by rebels, and the communists' lack of willingness to negotiate.

However, just last month, the President said he was open to peace talks once again.

"I'm talking to the communists. The Norwegian officials came here to score the possibility of talking again. I have to consult my military people,"  the President said in a speech before lawmakers on February 20.

CNN Philippines senior correspondent Ina Andolong, and digital producers Pia Garcia, Eimor Santos, Amanda Lingao, and Chad de Guzman contributed to this report.