RELIGIOUS leaders from the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) have renewed their call for the resumption of peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
The PEPP, the largest Christian faith-based formation in the country held a two-day peace dialogue from February 28 to March 1, at the Cronin Hall, St. Augustine Cathedral in Cagayan de Oro, calling for President Rodrigo Duterte to give peace a chance by laying down a tangible legacy before he steps down in 2022.
Part of the event is a conversation with chief presidential peace adviser, former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Carlito Galvez Jr.
“While the Bangsamoro peace efforts have been moving forward in progress, the peace talks between the government and NDFP had been stalled since November 23, 2017 after President Duterte signed the Proclamation No. 360 declaring the termination of peace talks with communist rebels,” the group said.
“On December 5, 2017, President Duterte signed another proclamation formally designating the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group,” it added.
The group said before the peace talks was stalled, the peace negotiation was already at the height of inking the joint document on Socio-Economic Reforms tackling issues that addresses the roots of the armed conflict which includes poverty, landlessness, joblessness, hunger and inequality, among others.
Meanwhile, around 15 members of the family and relatives of lumad and peasant leaders Datu Jomorito Goaynon, Ireneo Udarbe, Gerry Basahon, among others, have sought the help of Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, for moral upliftment and humanitarian assistance.
Bishop Felixberto Calang of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente said Ledesma gestured to facilitate and relay the concerns to respective government authorities, human rights bodies, including the military.
The families were also offered possible legal assistance from the newly-formed justice and peace desk of the church.
On the other hand, human rights group Karapatan in Northern Mindanao has already recorded 13 cases of illegal arrest with detention, 20 cases of threat, harassment and intimidation including the February 22 National Solidarity Mission incident where a malicious “list of terrorists” was discovered bearing the names of church leaders, lawyers, media and progressive civil society groups.
Among those figured on the list were Calang, human rights lawyers Musni, journalist Cong Corrales, and other rights defenders.
Calang also said PEPP volunteer staff, Aldeem Yanez was also subjected to harassment by suspected state agents.
“Amidst these trying times, more than ever, religious and peace builders must not falter and must remain steadfast in the quest for a just and lasting peace in our land,” Calang said.