By Wilnard Bacelonia

Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Win Gatchalian (File photo)

MANILA – Senators are positive that the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front (NDF), who recently signed a joint communique to resume peace negotiations, will bring peace and progressive for the country.

In a statement on Thursday, Senator Jinggoy Estrada cited the development as a “major stride towards progress” and shows the readiness of both parties to exchange ideas and reach a consensus, disregarding their disparities for the betterment of our country.

“This is a positive development in finding a peaceful resolution to the decades-long armed conflict, especially with President Marcos Jr.’s move to grant amnesty to rebels. The road to lasting peace is undoubtedly challenging, but the resumption of talks opens avenues for mutual understanding, compromise, and, ultimately, resolving long-standing issues,” Estrada said.

He also vowed to closely monitor the peace negotiations to ensure that any agreement reached reflects the principles of justice, inclusivity, and reconciliation, as well as upholds the interests of the Filipino people.

Calling it a ” breakthrough”, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian reflects a shared commitment between two parties to prioritize diplomacy over conflict and fostering an environment conducive to understanding and cooperation.

“I hope that this development will lead to a cessation of hostilities, one that we can sustain moving forward for the benefit of communities in the countryside directly impacted by the conflict,” Gatchalian said in a separate statement.

The prospect of achieving a resolution with the communist rebels should drive a whole-of-government approach that would bring about economic development that is more inclusive and wide-ranging.

Ang makabuluhang hakbang na ito ay patunay ng dedikasyon ng parehong panig sa kapakanan at kaunlaran ng mamamayang Pilipino (This move is a proof of the dedication of both parties to the welfare and development of Filipinos),” Gatchalian added.

The GPH and NDF announced on Tuesday that they have signed a joint statement in Oslo, Norway on Nov. 23 recognizing the need “to unite as a nation in order to urgently address these challenges and resolve the reasons for the armed conflict.”

Inclusive peace agenda

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), meanwhile, said the measure would play an integral and active role in the “whole-of-government” approach that forms part of the President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s inclusive peace agenda.

In a statement Thursday, DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said this is a tangible reflection of the President’s commitment to uniting the nation and addressing long standing grievances.

He said the detrimental effects of insurgency are deeply felt by local government units and their constituents and that the armed struggle has stunted economic growth and disrupted numerous local communities, leading to the regrettable loss of many lives and livelihood.

“These situations demonstrate that without peace and order, it is impossible to attain economic development and sustain progress in our communities. I enjoin all Filipinos to join and support our efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the armed conflict and an end to the CPP-NPA-NDF’s armed struggle,” he said.

The Philippine Army (PA) also expressed hope that the exploratory talks between the government and the NDF would pave the way to national progress.

“The Army will work closely with various government agencies, stakeholders, and private sectors to achieve a just and lasting peace for every Filipino. This is a significant breakthrough which symbolizes the collective efforts of all sectors of the society,” it added.

The Army also clarified that as there is no final peace framework yet, its forces would continue its efforts to sustain the gains in internal security operations by dismantling the weakened communist guerrilla fronts and neutralizing the remaining armed groups. (with report from Priam Nepomuceno and Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)