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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Localized peace talks won’t solve conflict


LOCALIZED peace talks are not the best way to attain a lasting truce between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Philippine government (GPH).

This was the call of Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) Supreme Bishop Ephraim Fajutagana and the 15 other IFI bishops from Visayas and Mindanao as they urge for the resumption of peace talks between the two parties.

For the peace talks to work, Fajutagana said it must not be localized, but must be national in scope.

During the IFI church leaders’ meeting in Barangay Bulua Thursday, the bishops have reiterated its stand to hold a nationalized peace talks so both parties could move on to the next level.

Fajutagana said now is the best time to continue with the dialogue, as its second phase would focus on the socio-economic reforms.

He said the second round would be very vital since it would impact the people, especially those living in the countryside.

With this agenda in mind, the IFI bishops believed that a localized peace talk would not bring the best result.

“A localized peace talk will only promote regionalism and would have a very limited effect,” Fajutagana said.

Bishop Antonio Ablon, of the IFI in Mindanao, said the localized peace dialogue could also mean an exclusive, and not inclusive, means of resolving issues.

For instance, if the Maoist rebels in Bukidnon and the GPH will sit down to come up with a win-win solution to the conflict in the area, there is a possibility that other insurgent units in other parts of Mindanao can engage the government soldiers since they are not covered by the peace agreement forged in that province.

“What we want is for everyone, wherever you are in the Philippines, to benefit from the peace talk and not just a few people, since the NDFP and the GPH are both national in scope and jurisdiction,” Ablon told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Thursday.

Active role

Ablon said that the IFI has been playing an active role in ensuring the success of the peace talk as it would prevent bloodshed and would propel the country to progress and development.

Some of the IFI bishops had even acted as “third-party depository” during the series of dialogues between the NDFP and the GPH in the past years.

Although their participation is different from the negotiators, the depositories act as keepers of documents from both parties that are essential to the completion of the peace discussion.

“But even if the IFI will no longer be given an important role like a negotiator or a depository, we will still help to ensure that the peace talk will continue by calling on the parties involved to take the time out to sit down and find a common ground needed for the success of this dialogue,” he added.

Also, the IFI was one of the main conveners of the Sowing the Seeds of Peace in Mindanao (SSPM), which advocated a peaceful solution to the ongoing armed conflict between the New People’s Army and the state’s military and police.

Cessation of hostilities

Bishop Felixberto Calang, in a previous interview with this paper, said the cessation of hostilities between the two parties is vital to the attainment of the lasting peace.

Calang said the continued skirmishes happening in the countryside between the NPA and the soldiers would only result to more bloodshed and the displacement of rural residents.

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