CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/13 August) — The Bishop of Bukidnon condemned as an “abominable act” the August 6 killing of mine workers in a chromite mining firm in Bukidnon and appealed to the New People’s Army for a ceasefire as government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) peace panels resume peace negotiations next month.
“I condemn the massacre of the workers. Taking the lives of those poor people in view of stopping mining operation is an abominable act. If we are truly opting for the love of the poor then that act is really contradictory,” Bishop Jose Cabantan said.
He added that peace talks between the two peace panels would only be reliable “if there is a ceasefire or truce as they discuss the root problems and solution towards peace.”
Different guerilla fronts of the NPA have launched several attacks last month. The attacks occurred mostly in Misamis Oriental and included the assassination of a barangay chair, abduction of jail personnel and a town mayor, a raid of a small-scale chromite mining compound killing four miners, and burning of earth-moving equipment of a hydropower dam construction site.
Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Felixberto Calang, in a text message Saturday, agreed with Cabantan.
“A ceasefire within the duration of the (peace) talks is a welcome move, whether jointly or unilaterally and provides a conducive atmosphere for dialogue,” he said.
Calang, however, added: “We should help ensure that formal talks resume owing to compliance of previously signed agreements. We think this is where the snags lie. It is only when the talks resume that the ceasefire becomes a relevant issue.”
He said they will hold a press conference next week “as soon as we consult the Sowing the Seeds of Peace convenors on the various issues regarding the talks.”
For his part, 4th Infantry Division spokesperson Maj. Eugenio Julio Osias IV, maintains that even with the heightened attacks by the Maoist guerillas peace talks is still the most viable solution.
“We still believe on the primacy of peace talks. But it’s not for us to comment on that because it is the national leadership that decides and has a better appreciation on the issue at hand,” he said in a phone interview Thursday.
“What we are mandated to do is only to submit reports to the government peace panel so that they can have the most updated situation from the ground,” he added. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)