The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and other groups voiced out its support for the resumption of peace negotiations in a gathering in Manila on 22 January 2024, to commemorate the 37th anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre. The first peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) started immediately after Corazon Aquino was installed as president after the deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. The talks however collapsed after Aquino's security forces opened fire on farmers and allied groups who were demonstrating near the presidential palace to demand for genuine land reform.
GRP-NDFP peace negotiations went on and off under different regimes until Rodrigo Duterte terminated the talks in November 2017.
However, in a joint statement signed 23 November 2023 in Oslo, the two parties, “cognizant of the serious socioeconomic and environmental issues, and the foreign security threats facing the country,” agreed to explore the possible resumption of the formal peace negotiations to address the roots of the armed conflict.
Various activist groups welcomed the bilateral discussions to resume the peace negotiations. Bayan Chair Emeritus Carol Araullo said, for the martyrs of Mendiola, together with the KMP, they continue to assert peace talks and acknowledge the recent breakthroughs in the Oslo Joint Statement. Araullo said the peasant sector’s participation is crucial in the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).
Julieta de Lima, chairperson of the NDFP Peace Negotiating Panel, said that agrarian reform and rural development are critical components of CASER. It has seven major parts discussing the principles, scope or applicability, development of the national economy, respect for human rights, macroeconomic policies, and the overall mechanism of its implementation.
Detained NDFP peace consultants Rey Casambre, Renante Gamara, Vicente Ladlad and Adelberto Silva sent a letter that said that the possibility of peace talks resumption is an acknowledgment that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) remain relevant forces to advance the interest of the people.
“If peace talks continue, Marcos Jr. should recognize the formal and informal negotiations in the past administration such as the signing of Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG),” the letter reads.
In the course of the peace negotiations, NDFP peace consultants have been subjected to arrests, harassment, killings and enforced disappearances. Among the slain peace consultants are Randy Malayao (2019), Julius Garon (2020), Randall Echanis (2020), Eugenia Magpantay (2020), Aggaton Tapacio (2020), Rustico Tan (2021), Ericson Acosta (2022), Benito Tiamzon (2022) and Wilma Tiamzon (2022).
“We have seen that amid the worsening political and socio-economic crisis, when the toiling masses assert their interests, the GRP has no choice but to go back to the negotiating table,” the detained consultants said.