By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
MANILA — The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said it plans to discuss with Vice President Leni Robredo the possible resumption of peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).
Recently-appointed NDFP Negotiating Panel interim Chairperson Julie de Lima said the Left should “engage the (GRP’s) constitutional successor to press for the resumption of the peace negotiation as a rallying point in the effort to oust [GRP President Rodrigo] Duterte,” the Communist Party of the Philippines’ Ang Bayan reported.
“[T]he NDFP, including its panel, should hold discussions with opposition parties, in particular, the Liberal Party,” de Lima told the underground newsletter.
She added that prospects for resuming the peace negotiations after Duterte, whether he is ousted or he finishes his term, “are possible and desirable.”
De Lima pointed out the peace negotiations can immediately resume the stalled negotiations on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER)” once Duterte is out of office.
Duterte cancelled the peace negotiations in July 2017 as both the GRP and NDFP were ready to finalize important agreements under the CASER.
Before her new appointment, de Lima is a long-time NDFP negotiating panel member and head of its Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms.
CASER to combat COVID-19
The CASER, de Lima said, has relevant provisions on confronting the issue of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The draft agreement has a whole article consisting of seven sections which are devoted to the discussion of the people’s right to health, she said. This includes the establishment of a universal public health system that provides free, comprehensive and quality health services for all, de Lima explained.
The CASER provides immediate and adequate financial, material, moral and psychosocial support, ensuring disaster preparedness and respons, and holding criminally and civilly liable corrupt and grossly negligent officials, she added.
“The NDFP and GRP can elaborate on the issue based on a summing up of experience and learning lessons from both sides as well as from the positive and negative practices of foreign countries and international agencies in responding and confronting this particular pandemic as well as other pandemics.”