CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Peace advocacy groups were disappointed over President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address last Monday which did not mention a peace agenda.

Balay Mindanao, which has been involved in peacebuilding initiatives with communities, local officials, and the military, was hoping the issue of Marawi and its internally displaced residents would have been mentioned.

But instead, Duterte was “more concerned about rehabilitating Boracay. Not a single line about Bangsamoro. Mindanao mentioned only once, but in relation to Martial Law,” said Charlito Manlupig, founder and president of the group.

Manlupig said not a single word in the SONA mentioned Marawi City, or the thousands of residents that have yet to be allowed to rebuild their homes, especially in the war-ravaged ground zero.

He said there was “nothing about the peace process, but more on his fear of engaging in war with China.”

For his part, Bishop Felixberto Calang, from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and convener of the Sowing the Seeds of Peace in Mindanao, was also disappointed that the president did not mention the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front.

The group earlier expressed their wish that the SONA “may contain even the slightest window of opportunity for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.”

But Calang said they will still push through with their advocacy to resume the talks that was postponed since 2017.

“We will continue to ask the Duterte government to reconsider the peace talks as a viable option,” he said.

Calang said they are fully supportive of the resumption of the negotiations as it would pave the way for the finalization of two key aspects in the talks, namely, the implementation of the genuine agrarian reform and the nationalization of the country’s industrial sector.(

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