The peace panels of the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines sign the ground rules for conduct of the meeting of the reciprocal working committee on social and economic reforms during the third round of talks in Rome, Italy on January 2017. ( file photo)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—A Philippine senator said the social reform agenda being proposed by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines is feasible and could be funded by the national budget.

Senator Loren Legarda, in a statement, said that she is optimistic that both the government and the communists would be able to seal a peace agreement that is beneficial to the people.

“I welcome the agreements made during the fourth round of peace talks under the current administration. I am optimistic that the matters discussed and those in the NDFP’s social reform agenda would already be addressed as many of these are covered by current laws and funded in the national budget,” she said.

Legarda said that the proposals coming from NDFP could be readily addressed through existing laws and government programs.

This as she pointed out that the 2017 national budget and the 2016 national budget included programs and provisions which form part of NDFP’s social reform agenda such as rural industrialization and development as well as environmental protection, among others.

“I commit to work on a national budget for 2018 that would support and advance the gains of the peace process. That is the least Congress can do,” Legarda, who chairs the Senate Committees on Finance and Climate Change.

The 2017 General Appropriations Act has funding for rural industrialization and development. Under the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Program (AFMP), P3.9 billion is for the Program Beneficiaries Development (PBD) Component of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in support of the programs and projects of the AFMP.

Other items in the budget on rural development include the P2 billion irrigation service fee subsidy and P1 billion under the Small Business Corporation subsidy for microenterprises.

The Reciprocal Working Committees of the government and the NDFP on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-economic Reforms CASER have firmed up their agreements on free land distribution as the basic principle of genuine agrarian reform.

The RWCs identified nine contentious provisions under Agrarian Reform and Rural Development of CASER which the Parties will continue to discuss on its upcoming meetings before the next round of talks on May.

The nine provisions include coverage, confiscation, compensation, lease/leaseback and plantations, international agreements/domestic law, political power/implementation mechanisms, land use, private insurance, and terminologies.(

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