Mindanao peace advocates, church leaders welcome resumption of talks

Apr. 06, 2018

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Church leaders and peace advocates welcomed the pronouncement of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to resume the peace talks between the government and communists after months of uncertainties following its cancellation.

According to Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, the President has emphasized during the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday “the importance of forging a ceasefire agreement to stop mutual attacks and fighting while talks are underway.

“This is most welcome,” said Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, head of the archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro and convenor of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), on Duterte’s announcement.

Both sides, Ledesma said, have legitimate concerns that should be “reconciled through negotiations and listening to the aspirations of the basic sectors of Phil. Society.”

Bishop Felixberto Calang, a ranking official of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and Sowing the Seeds of Peace in Mindanao main convenor, the revival of the negotiations, is “the second life for the peace talks” and that citizens must ensure that it will not be hampered again, as what had happened in the past.

“The Filipino people must not allow hawkish vultures to lead it astray again to a tragic end. A just and lasting peace based on the resolution of the causes of armed conflict is the only way to our nation’s bright future,” Calang said in a statement.

While peace advocates join the jubilant voices that are welcoming the resumption of the talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, Calang said they share in the “guarded optimism” expressed by members of the country’s legislature whose resolution pushing for the talks further highlighted the growing clamor of the people for the peace process to prevail all-out war.

“Our ‘optimism’ is based on the prospect of reviving hopes for the eventual signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), the release of political prisoners, and the upholding of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL),” he said.

He added: “Our being ‘guarded’ is in view of the continuing dark clouds that hover above the peace talks such as the terrorist-witch-hunt list, Martial Law in Mindanao, and the widespread militarization of Lumad [indigenous people] communities. All of these need to be addressed or considered if we wish for the talks to proceed with a good start.”

The resumption of the peace talks, the prelate said, show that Duterte is the “decisive protagonist who can provide the ‘enabling environment’ for the sustainability of the process.”

Through the facilitation of the Royal Norwegian Government, Calang said they are confident that the talks can now be allowed to build in the hard work already put into by both parties.(davaotoday.com)

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