By Charissa Luci-Atienza
A progressive lawmaker is optimistic that the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) would happen within this year.
Bayan Muna Rep.Carlos Isagani Zarate, former vice chairperson of the House committee on peace, reconciliation and unity, said he is hopeful that the resumption of the peace negotiations will lead to the signing of such agreement.
“The Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) is a make or break stage of the negotiations as the issues being discussed like the prevalence of landlessness, the lack of national industrialization and extreme economic exploitation of majority of Filipinos are among the main reasons of the almost five-decade-old armed conflict,” he said in a statement.
“Hopefully, it can be signed this year so that the panels can move on the remaining agenda of the talks,” he said.
Zarate said the signing and the thorough implementation of the CASER would be a safeguard against armed hostilities, as it would pave the way for giving lands to landless peasants and industrialize our lagging nation.
He took the opportunity to thank the Norwegian government for serving as a neutral ground and continuously facilitating the peace talks.
“It would be best, too, that the talks should be conducted still in a neutral venue so as to ensure that no undue pressure or interference can be exerted on either party and the negotiations could go as smoothly and unhampered as possible,” he said.
“We laud and thank the Royal Norwegian Government for the perseverance and the continuing facilitation of the negotiations,” Zarate said in closing.