“We hope that through the resumption of the formal peace talks, social justice and the need for fundamental socio-economic reforms will finally be tackled.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Church leaders expressed support for the efforts President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
In a statement, the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), the largest ecumenical formation of church leaders in the country today, said it is optimistic that the preliminary talks between the two parties “will bear fruit.”
Preliminary talks between the NDFP and the incoming peace panel of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) led by Jesus Dureza and Silvestre Bello III are set next week in Oslo, Norway.
PEPP also appreciates the promise to release political prisoners including NDFP consultants as a confidence building measure for the talks.
There are 18 NDFP consultants detained in various jails; most of whom are charged with common crimes. The NDFP has maintained that the arrest and detention of its consultants and staff violate the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig), the Hernandez political doctrine and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
PEPP also welcomed the GPH’s promise that all signed agreements will be honored to serve as building blocks for future agreements.
Both Dureza and Bello were involved in the peace talks during the previous administrations. Bello, also the incoming labor secretary, served as the GPH peace panel chairman and was a member of the GRP panel from 1992 until 2004. Dureza, on the other hand, served as presidential adviser on the peace process from 2005 until 2008.
Peace talks between the GPH and the NDFP have reached an impasse since 2011.
PEPP also said “the prospects of a ceasefire from both sides may also bring favorable conditions.”
PEPP reiterated that addressing the roots of the armed conflict by engaging in principled dialogue is a positive step forward.
“We hope that through the resumption of the formal peace talks, social justice and the need for fundamental socio-economic reforms will finally be tackled,” the statement signed by Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, Rev.Fr. Rex Reyes Jr., Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., Bishop Noel Pantoja and Sr. Mary John Mananzan, read.
According to the The Hague Joint Declaration, socio-economic reforms would be the second substantive agenda item in the GPH-NDFP talks. The first one, CARHRIHL, was signed in 1998.
The Church leaders enjoined “all peace-loving Filipinos to continually pray and tirelessly work for peace by supporting these new initiatives toward peace by the incoming Administration.” #