102 lawmakers urge Duterte to continue peace talks

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 102 lawmakers led by the House Makabayan bloc signed a resolution urging President Rodrigo Duterte to continue the peace negotiations with communist rebels.

The Makabayan bloc legislators filed House Resolution (HR) Number 769 on Thursday, February 9. Four days before, the President scrapped the peace talks after the New People's Army (NPA) withdrew from a 5-month-old ceasefire. 

The government also issued a notice to cancel an agreement giving some rebels immunity from arrest – the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). (READ: Rebels reject 'improper' notice to cancel talks, JASIG)

According to the congressmen, the President should continue the peace talks because the "Duterte administration [has] reached remarkable and unparalleled headway" compared to past administrations. 

"Terminating the same would only put to waste the unprecedented, positive and substantial gains the peace talks have reached," said the lawmakers.

"It is highly imperative that this Congress hear the Filipino people's desire to support the resumption of the peace negotiations. It is just and lasting peace itself that is the very compelling reason to continue the peace negotiations," they added. 

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate said there is a 30-day window before the cancellation of the JASIG will take place. 

"Kami ay may nakikita pang puwang na may mababalik sa track ang peace process. At kailangang samantalahin natin ang opportunity na ito," said Zarate in a press conference.  

(We still see a window for the peace process to get back on track. We need to take advantage of this opportunity.)

The full list of lawmakers who signed HR 769 as of early afternoon of February 9 are as follows:

– Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.