IP’s wants GPH, NDFP to discuss their rights in peace talks

INDIGENOUS Peoples organization Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) expressed their support in the incoming peace negotiations between the National Democatic Front (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH.) “Indigenous Peoples’ communities are directly affected by the war raging in the countryside. Our lands are militarized as a result of counter-insurgency campaigns are staged in ancestral territories,” Piya Malayao, spokesperson of KAMP claimed.

Talks between the NDFP and the GPH are due to resume this month, after seven years of stalled talks. The NDFP is allied with the New Peoples’ Army, led by the Communist Party of the Philippines, who have waged rural-based protracted war for 42 years.

Malayao also expects the GPH to make the first step in creating a favorable atmosphere for the talks. “The GPH has powers and resources to create goodwill measures to forge trust and sincerity with the NDFP. They must make these steps to ensure the success of the peace process.”

Previous talks with the NDFP produced the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and Joint Agreement on Immunity Guarantees (Jasig.) “Respect and implementation of past accords is a must. It is a sign of goodwill and sincerity among parties,” Malayao added.

KAMP also demanded the immediate release of political prisoners and the surfacing of the involuntary disappeared, among which are Indigenous Peoples or NDFP personnel covered by Jasig immunity.

“Igorot leader James Balao remains missing, and justice is yet to be attained for the 140 Indigenous Peoples who became victims of extrajudicial slays. Eddie Cruz, a Dumagat, remains incarcerated for false charges. Starting from this situation, the GPH must make vaulting amends to show good faith in the talks. Peace should be based on justice.” Malayao stressed.

Talks with the revolutionary group will discuss the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER.) “The Indigenous Peoples have major stakes in the peace negotiations, especially in terms of national industrialization, foreign economic and trade relations, as well as Indigenous Peoples’ rights. We expect that these matters will be discussed in the talks as well.” Malayao said.

The NDFP also represents Indigenous Peoples. “IPs are not mere victims of the ongoing civil war, on the contrary they depict the situations that fertilize the earth that nourishes the armed struggle,” Malayao claimed. “Indigenous communities suffer the worst of landlessness, human rights abuse and poverty.”

KAMP said the CASER is the meat of the peace negotiations. “It addresses the root causes of the armed revolution, such as land reform. This round of talks is crucial to the peace process.” Malayao said.

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