Church’s wish list for SONA includes revival of peace talks

Jul. 27, 2020

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – A peace group’s wish for President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday, July 27, is for the revival of the peace negotiations between the government and Communist rebels.

“It is our wish that the President’s SONA may contain even the slightest window of opportunity for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations,” said Bishop Felixberto Calang, convenor of the Sowing the Seeds of Peace and head of the diocese of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente in Cagayan de Oro.

Sowing the Seeds of Peace is an ecumenical group active in promoting the peace process since its formation in 2010 and has been assisting the negotiations during the recent round of talks before Duterte canceled it for good in 2018.

Calang said, “We wish, not hope, because the imposition of the Anti-Terrorism Law is the single biggest obstacle to the revival of the peace process.”

The prelate has also renewed their call “that in the midst of the [coronavirus disease 2019] pandemic, there will be ‘social distancing’ in the battlefield.”

This, he said, “will allow the government to focus its full attention and resources on the people’s health, while also allowing the forces of the National Democratic Front to complement this effort.”

But, Calang said, it is clear that four years into the Duterte Presidency, “we see a whole-of-state approach, dominated by military and police generals, to the most pressing issues of our time including the coronavirus pandemic.”

“Going into the final stretch of the Duterte government, dreams for an independent foreign policy, genuine land reform, and a just and lasting peace — hatched and launched in Davao City in 2016 — have been taken over by anti-democratic, anti-national, and anti-people measures and appear to be the legacy that the President seeks to leave behind,” he added. (

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