Senator Loren Legarda
Privilege Speech: Continue the Peace Talks
13 February 2017 | Senate Session Hall
I wish to put on record my views on the peace negotiations between the Philippine Government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
I call on all parties to continue the peace talks. War is not an option. More death and suffering will be the result of the resumption of hostilities which neither the government nor the NFDP can win.
As someone who has been involved in negotiating releases of prisoners by the New People’s Army (NPA), I have seen the sincerity of all sides to this conflict and have witnessed the intense desire for peace. There is a reservoir of goodwill inside all of us that we must now draw from so guns are not drawn and fired once again.
I support a negotiated bilateral ceasefire agreement, with effective monitoring procedures and strict compliance mechanisms. This ceasefire agreement should be unconditional as it benefits both parties to the conflict. More importantly, it is good for our people and they will welcome this. It will also prevent unexpected and untoward incidents that could derail the peace process.
I support the unconditional release of all political prisoners. I understand that this might have to be done in batches and according to legal procedures. But let us begin with the sick detainees and those who are already seniors, 60 years old and over.
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, I commit to work on a national budget for 2018 that would support and advance the gains of the peace process. That is the least Congress can do.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has a solid and comprehensive vision for peace. He has been willing to back it up with the strongest political will. Let us support the peace process so that this vision is achieved.
Thank you, Mr. President.