February 9, 2017
We, computer professionals, technicians, students and workers, join the call from different groups and sectors to continue the peace negotiations between the government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
We want to see a peaceful resolution to our decades-long civil war that has claimed the lives of countless Filipinos.
More importantly, we look forward to serious commitments earlier stated by both sides to thresh out an agreement addressing the prevailing system of inequality, injustice, and oppression that creates rebels out of ordinary Filipino peasants, workers, students.
We have high hopes that comprehensive reforms in the economic and social fabric of our country, in pursuit of a just and lasting peace, will bring about the change we have been looking for in our information and communications technology (ICT) sector.
Changes which include the reorientation of basic telephone, mobile and internet services away from profit-making and towards the delivery of basic communications needs of all Filipinos.
The development of our very own mining, metals, and electronics industries which cater to the demand of developing Filipino industries and a modernized agriculture. Industries that will at the same time heartily employ ICT professionals and workers and ensure just compensation for all workers and laborers.
We want to see reforms in our educational system to ensure that ICT graduates are not only technically proficient but well grounded to respond to the specific needs of the national economy and the populace.
We want to see a better playing field for tech startups, free from unfair competition from oligarchs backed by big foreign transnationals. And the blossoming of ICT technologies that are responsive to the needs of even the most marginalized communities.
The third round of negotiations that ended last January 25 bade well for the achievement of these reforms. We were elated with the signing of supplemental guidelines on the Joint Monitoring Committee that strengthened the observance of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Law (CAHRIHL) by both parties, an agreement that sought to uphold universal human rights such as the right to privacy and the right to information and free speech dear to ICT advocates. We were similarly thrilled with breakthrough agreements on the first chapters of the draft Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER), and arrangements to accelerate the process of talks so that socio-economic reforms can be enjoyed by the people at the earliest time possible.
However, President Duterte’s quick turnaround, declaring the termination of the peace negotiations, has destroyed this positive momentum. We urge President Duterte to reconsider his unilateral pronouncement and ask himself – who will benefit from the scuttling of the peace talks?
Who will benefit from the all-out war rhetoric being spewed by the AFP’s top brass? Warhawks and beneficiaries of juicy arms contracts for one, not to mention big landlords, oligarchs, corrupt politicians, and their foreign backers threatened by sweeping reforms to land ownership, corporate regulation, and governance being threshed out during peace negotiations.
Who will benefit from the stalling of promising agreements on meaningful socio-economic reforms that would translate to land for landless farmers, a self-reliant national economy with industries in the hands of Filipinos for Filipinos, the protection of our finite natural resources for future generations, just and favorable work conditions for all workers, the delivery of basic social services to all Filipinos, and a truly independent foreign policy?
We urge President Duterte to deliver on his winning campaign promise to effect sweeping and drastic changes to uplift the lives of Filipinos. As computer professionals and as Filipinos, we call on the continuation of the peace negotiations and join different groups, localities, and sectors in the clamor for a just and lasting peace through the GRP-NDFP peace talks.##
Mac Yanto, Deputy National Coordinator
282-4129 / 0918-6432848