DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Church leaders are urging the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to reciprocate the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) extended unilateral nationwide ceasefire despite accusations that both parties have violated their own unilateral ceasefires.
“They not only provide a good atmosphere for healing and a positive environment for the unhampered flow of services to our sisters and brothers, but they may also pave the way for both sides to engage again in principled dialogue toward lasting peace,” said the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) in a statement Tuesday, April 21.
Last week, the CPP has extended its unilateral ceasefire until April 30, when the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine is expected to end, citing the need to prioritize the fight against the Coronavirus crisis.
READ: CPP extends unilateral ceasefire amid Covid pandemic
The government’s ceasefire order, on the other hand, expired last April 15.
In a statement Sunday, April 19, Malacañang said that a ceasefire extension may be discussed by the National Task Force on Ending Local Armed Conflict with President Duterte.
The PEPP also reiterated its call to both the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to resume the stalled peace talks, as the country faces “an uncertain future brought about by [the] COVID-19 pandemic.”
Along with its ceasefire extension, the CPP has also expressed its desire for the resumption of the peace negotiations.
The PEPP said that their appeal for the release of the vulnerable and elderly prisoners, including arrested NDFP consultants on humanitarian grounds, is more pressing, with reports of inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19.
“PEPP stands by our longstanding offer to enable and facilitate a conducive atmosphere for restarting the peace talks by providing custodial guarantee through the church network of PEPP should the process of Release on Recognizance be followed in relation to detained consultants of the NDFP,” the PEPP said.
The PEPP is a platform for five church institutions, namely, the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines with organizations of Religious, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, and the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum. (davaotoday.com)