YOUTH and sectoral groups formed a “human chain” at Mendiola, Manila last Friday to support the resumption of the formal peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
The human chain is part of the metro-wide action led by Kapayapaan, a group of advocates who call for a just and lasting peace, in anticipation of the formal negotiations in Oslo, Norway presumably on August 20 to 27.
Several actions were also held along major roads including E. Rodriguez and the Elliptical Road in Quezon City, Taft Avenue in Manila, Ayala Avenue in Makati City and Alabang in Muntinlupa City.
Peace for all
The groups lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncements for peace with the revolutionary NDFP and other groups such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front.
They added however that simply laying down arms shall not bring the peace the country needs.
“Hindi natatapos sa pagpapababa ng armas ang peace talks. Ang kapayapaan sa bansa ay makakamit natin kapag natugunan na ang mga pangangailangan ng mga mamamayan,” Kevin Castro, National Union of Students of the Philippines spokesperson, said.
He added that the immediate resumption of the peace talks is important because the agenda on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socioeconomic Reforms will focus on poverty.
The groups called for common citizens to actively participate in the peace talks because “they are the ones who will benefit from it the most.”
“Kabilang dito ang pagkakaroon ng tunay na reporma sa lupa at pambansang industriyalisasyon. Pati na rin ang pagtaas ng sahod at pagkawala ng kontraktuwalisasyon, ” Romeo Dollente of Bayan Muna – Sampaloc said.
Youth for change
League of Filipino Students (LFS), for its part, urged the youth to support the peace process and to join the youth sector campaign Kabataan para sa Pagbabago.
They also slammed the commercialization and deregulation of education, and its effects on the youth.
According to the Department of Education, only 26 per cent of the 1.5 million Grade 10 completers have actually enrolled for Grade 11.
It meant that the reality under the implementation of K-12 is “grim” and “anti-student,” LFS said.
“Anim na kabataan na ang piniling kitilin ang sariling buhay dahil sa taas ng presyo ng edukasyon. At milyon-milyon na namang kabataan ang hindi makakapag-aral dahil sa dagdag na dalawang taon sa K-12” League of Filipino Students’ Hazel Samson said.
The openness of the Duterte administration to attain peace should be defended against forces that seek to undermine the efforts of both the government and the people, the groups said.
“Maraming puwersa na ang nagpa-plano na wasakin ang usapang pangkapayaan dahil ayaw nilang manatili ang isang pamahalaang progresibo at tumutulong sa mamamayan,” Dollente said.
The groups said that the full support of the people will boost the needed changes.
“Naririto ngayon ang mga kabataan, ang mga mamamayan dahil nais nating igiit sa gobyerno ang pangangailangan na itulak ang totoong kapayapaan na nakabatay sa katarungan,” LFS said. # (Report and photos by Mikhaela Dimpas of UP College of Mass Communications for Kodao Productions)