By Chito Chavez
The church group Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) has lauded President Duterte’s order for the government panel to resume peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF.)
In a statement, PEPP said the NDF has also expressed openness to the resumption of the peace talks “without preconditions.”
Both pronouncements come on the heels of House Resolution No. 1803 signed by more than 60 lawmakers that urged Duterte to continue peace negotiations with the NDF, which he had scrubbed last year.
The statement was signed by: Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro, co-chairperson of the PEPP; Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes Jr., PEPP co-chairperson, of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP); Bishop Neol A. Pantoja, national director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC); Bishop Deogracias S. Iniguez Jr., PEPP Head of the Secretariat, of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF), and; Sr. Mary John D. Mananzan of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP.)
PEPP is a platform for the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), NCCP, AMRSP, PCEC and EBF in working for a just and enduring peace by supporting the peace process between the GRP and the NDF.
“As leaders of churches in the country, we appreciate these developments, especially after we have lamented President Duterte’s signing of Proclamation No. 360, formally terminating the peace talks last November and the government’s subsequent declaration of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) as terrorist organizations. We hope that the atmosphere for the resumption of the stalled talks will continue to spread positively especially after we have celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace,” PEPP said.
PEPP has always championed principled dialogue over the negotiating table to resolve the 50-year-old armed conflict.
The group called on both the GRP and the NDF to resume the formal peace, through the third party facilitation of the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) and urged them to fully implement the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and respect previously signed agreements.
“We urge them to continue the negotiations for the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) and for a possible ceasefire agreements,” it added.
“We also appeal to the Senate to support the Resolution of their peers in Congress by coming up with a similar action. We call on all Filipinos to pray and tirelessly work for peace, as Jesus said to His disciples: ‘…Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you…’ (John 14;27),” PEPP concluded.