Churches concerned over peace talk impasse-A A +A
Sunday, March 10, 2013
CHURCH leaders are calling for the continuation of peace negotiations between government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) which recently reached an impasse.
Some 76 church leaders from all over the country led by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, co-chairperson of the Catholics Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), presented this stand in the 3rd Ecumenical Church Leaders Summit on Peace held in the Summer Capital last March 5 to 7 at the Little Flower Convent at Outlook Drive.
Together with Fr. Rex Reyes of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches Bishop John Tayoto, Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines Sr. Aurora Codiam and Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum Bishop Felixberto Calang joined Ledesma in presenting the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform.
“We have gathered to bring our collective strength together in an effort to encourage a breakthrough in the impasse that has stalled the peace talks since February 2011,” the religious leaders said.
The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform earlier issued a statement last year pleading for government “to release in recognizance under the collective custodial guarantee of the NDF who are willing to be under the sanctuary of the churches.”
The religious leaders said the plea to release the detained NDF consultants in order for the formal peace talks to resume is not hinged solely on the contested issue of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees but also on the basis of humanitarian and other reasons as stated in the Oslo Joint Statement last February 21, 2011.
However, a condition required by the GPH with regard to the ROR proposal discouraged the consultants to avail themselves of this remedy claiming “it would expose them to greater threats.”
But the religious leaders remain steadfast in the belief that continuing government and NDF negotiations have a strong backing from the people.
“Our call to rebuild is also an appeal to President Benigno Aquino III to shepherd the formal peace talks between the government and the NDF just like the way he did with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. His commitment to the negotiations can help create a positive atmosphere to resume the formal talks,” they said.
The PEPP also reiterated their appeal to the government to release the NDF consultants as articulated in the Oslo Joint Statement last February 21, 2011 “on the basis of humanitarian and other practical reasons” to enable the peace talks to resume. (JM Agreda)
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 11, 2013.