Church leaders urge GPH, NDF to resume peace talks

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 September) – Church leaders on Sunday called on government (GPH) and National Democratic Front (NDF) to resume peace negotiations “to address the substantive issues that remain as the root cause of armed conflict in our country including the issue of agrarian reform.”

The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) made the call during a Mass for Peace at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Malate Church in Manila, officiated by Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, PEPP co-chair, to commemorate the United Nations’ International Day of Peace. The UN Day of Peace also fell on the 42nd anniversary of the declaration of martial law in the Philippines.

Leaders of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) led by Cagayan de Oro Archbishop and PEPP-co-chair Antonio Ledesma, SJ, reiterate their call to both government (GPH) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) outside the Malate Church in Manila Sunday after the 9 a.m. Mass for Peace on  International Day of Peace. It is also the 42nd anniversary of the declaration of  martial law. Photo courtesy of PEPP
Leaders of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) led by Cagayan de Oro Archbishop and PEPP-co-chair Antonio Ledesma, SJ, reiterate their call to both government (GPH) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) outside the Malate Church in Manila Sunday after the 9 a.m. Mass for Peace on International Day of Peace. It is also the 42nd anniversary of the declaration of martial law. Photo courtesy of PEPP

In a statement signed by Arcbhishop Ledesma, PEPP co-chair Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremdes of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), and Bishop Deogracias Iniquz, Jr., head of Secretariat, the PEPP reiterated its call on both parties to “respect the historical agreements that have already been achieved in the peace process such as the Comprehensive Agreement for Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL)” signed in 1998.

“Peace may seem elusive but it can be achieved if the parties to the conflict engage in principled negotiations,” the statement read.

“We wish to remind them of their responsibility to put an end to further loss of life as a result of the conflict. We call on the GPH and the NDFP to ‘…seek peace and pursue it.’ (Psalm 34:14). Our prayer on this day of peace is that all our people should live in peace and security and share justly in God’s bounty,” the statement read.

The PEPP is composed of members from the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP), Catholic Bishop’s Conference (CBCP), Ecumenical Bishop’s Forum (EBF), NCCP and the Philippine Conference of Evangelical Churches (PCEC).

It was set up in 2007 to have a “compelling united voice of Church leaders, clergy and laity that will push the conflicting parties into a continuing substantive peace dialogue.”

The PEPP statement cited the UN Declaration on “preservation of the right of people to peace and the promotion of its implementation constitute a fundamental obligation of each state.”

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles told MindaNews on Friday that “Friends of the Process are talking to us and them exploring possibilities. It’s not closed. There’s still a possibility (that talks will resume), she said.

The theme for this year’s celebration of International Day of Peace is “The Right of Peoples to Peace.”  (MindaNews)

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