House Speaker Romualdez on reviving peace talks with NDF: It’s not a political maneuver

The House Speaker also said initial talks on the possible resumption of peace negotiations are a step toward a peaceful future for Filipinos.

Gabriel Pabico Lalu

Gabriel Pabico Lalu

Philippine Daily Inquirer


House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez delivers his welcoming message in this file photo taken November 23, 2023, at the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum in Pasay City. PHOTO: OFFICE OF THE SPEAKER/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

December 5, 2023

MANILA – House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has clarified that peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) are not mere political maneuvers, but a responsibility of both sides in the pursuit of peace.

Romualdez said in a statement on Monday that the initial talks between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) on the possible resumption of peace negotiations are a step toward a peaceful future for Filipinos.

“This negotiation is more than just a political maneuver; it is a moral imperative, a chance to mend the fissures that have long divided our nation. We are not just negotiating terms; we are weaving the fabric of a peaceful future for every Filipino,” he said.

“Let us embrace this opportunity with open hearts and minds, fostering an environment where peace can flourish. Together, under President (Ferdinand) Marcos’s leadership, we shall strive towards a Philippines that is not only prosperous but also harmonious and united in its diversity,” he added.

In an ambush interview on the sidelines of the House’ Christmas tree lighting event, Romualdez also said that pushing for peace is only timely as the Philippines celebrates the yuletide season.

“We support 100 percent our President’s policy in the peace talks and it is also a perfect timing, it is Christmas, it is the time for peace, and that is what we all want especially during the Christmas season,” he noted.

Ever since Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Carlito Galvez Jr. announced last November 28 that GRP and the NDFP have reached a tentative agreement to seek a peaceful resolution to the decades-old armed conflict, there were several individuals who have expressed support to the move.

Two lawmakers from the House Makabayan bloc have lauded the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) decision to restart talks on the peace negotiations, hoping that this time around, issues would be addressed.

READ: Gov’t, NDF in prelim talks agree on peaceful solution to armed conflict 

However, there are also officials who believe that going back to the negotiation table will be unproductive.  During the celebration of the 5th National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) 5th anniversary, Vice President Sara Duterte said that moves to make peace with the NDFP is an agreement with the devil.

Duterte also called out President Marcos’ decision to give amnesty to returning rebels from the New People’s Army (NPA) and other militant groups — in a rare move from the Chief Executive’s election running-mate.

READ: Bongbong Marcos granted amnesty to rebel returnees, insurgents – EO 

But Romualdez — who himself is rumored to have a rift with the Vice President — assured Marcos that he still supports the peace negotiations, noting that the government has nothing to fear as it has the trust of the people and a strong Armed Forces.

“Bakit tayo matatakot makipag-usap kung alam nating malakas ang ating Sandatahang Lakas at matatag ang ating Republika? Ano ang ikababahala natin kung alam natin na nasa pamahalaan ang tiwala ng bayan?” Romualdez asked.

(Why would we be afraid to talk when we know that our Armed Forces and the Republic itself is strong?  What are we worried about when we have the public’s trust?)

“Tama na ang digmaan. Pagod na ang ating mamamayan sa kaguluhan. Bigyan natin ng pagkakataon ang kapayapaan,” he added.

(Let us stop the war.  Our people are tired of the armed struggle.  Let us give peace a chance.)

NPA fighters have been waging a guerrilla war for over five decades now, starting from the time of former president Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law regime.  It has since developed into an armed force calling for changes in society, from land reforms and fair labor practices.

READ: No more peace talks with communist rebels, says Duterte 

It appeared that peace talks would prosper under the term of Duterte’s father, former president Rodrigo Duterte, considering the latter’s close relationship with late Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison, who was his former professor.

READ: No ceasefire with communist rebels ‘ever again under my term’ – Duterte 

However, mistrust between the two sides — with the government claiming that rebels are still doing ambushes despite a previous ceasefire order — led to the failure of discussions.

Afterwards, the Duterte administration led a stringent anti-insurgency campaign, shifting to a localized approach through the NTF-Elcac

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