Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda urged the government of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to resume the stalled peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. In a speech delivered during the Philippine Senate’s plenary session on 30 August, she said, “I am in favor of peace talks that are built upon a genuine desire to come to an agreement, which are within our democratic framework and in accordance with all our laws.”

She added, “I believe the best way to achieve this is by building mutual understanding through good faith discussions, through which we can find that we have more that unites us than what sets us apart.”

Sen. Legarda also argued that there is nothing wrong and illegal about being a leftist. “Believing in policies and philosophies that may be left of center, so to speak, does not make one subversive,” Legarda pointed out, as she recalled her experience working with leftist groups and added “there is nothing wrong with that.” Sen. Legarda was responding to a proposal from Sen. Francis Tolentino requiring public officials to disclose ties to groups tagged by security officials as ‘terrorists’.

Peace advocates welcomed Sen. Legarda’s call to resume the GRP-NDFP peace talks. Bishop Reuel Marigza, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, said that Sen. Legarda’s statement “is a breath of fresh air amid the toxic atmosphere brought about by speeches and public discourses that sow hate and war.”

The Movement Against Tyranny also backed Legarda’s pronouncements saying, “Sen. Legarda’s call for peace should be supported, not red-tagged and vilified… Sen. Legarda walks her talk. Her manifestation was not only incisive and spot on. It is exactly what the country needs to hear and do,” said the group.

In a statement made earlier, NDFP Peace Panel interim Chairperson Julie de Lima stressed that if the Marcos Jr. regime wants peace negotiations to resume, it has to do away with the obstacles to peace put up by Duterte. “All the issuances of Duterte for preventing peace negotiations continue to be enforced by the Marcos II regime. So far, Marcos II wants to continue Duterte’s all-out war policy and the revolutionary movement has no choice but to fight the counterrevolution,” de Lima said.