Pursue the Peace Negotiations

The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) welcomes the public announcements of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to pursue and resume the peace talks.

We recognize that the road to a just and lasting peace is complex. But, we are certain that it is not impossible to go through. The grinding poverty and pervading suffering of the Filipino people are glaring realities impossible to ignore. The tragic loss of human life resulting from unresolved conflicts is an indictment on those who govern and weld civil authority.  These hinder the attainment of genuine democracy. On one hand they are recipes to civil unrest. On the other hand, they are solid motivations if not imperatives for the resumption of the peace talks.

We also recognize the long arduous work done by both parties to establish mutually agreed principles or framework upon which the peace negotiations are built. We especially commend the spirit and intent of the substantive agenda of the peace talks, namely, the comprehensive agreements on: a) the respect of human rights and international humanitarian law; b) social and economic reforms; c) political and constitutional reforms; and d) the disposition of forces. We believe that these principled agenda emerged from the crucible and contain the fundamental issues that need to be addressed by both parties if the road to genuine peace and justice is to be pursued.

A breakthrough was reached with the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the creation of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC).

Even as we still have a long way  towards the ideal, at least the first substantive agenda was accomplished .  There is now a standard that both sides must follow with respect to human rights. Yet, violations of this signed agreement were committed. Violations of human rights continue to happen.

We therefore call on both parties to fully implement the CARHRIHL by convening the Joint Monitoring Committee to convene the soonest time possible to address these issues. The compliance of the intent and terms of the CARHRIHL is paramount. That much is due to the people of this country.

To take up the second agenda of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms is a move to address one of   the roots of the current conflict in the Philippines: social and economic injustice. It has been said again and again, that the gap between the small affluent group and the greater mass of people who are poor is a recipe for social unrest. It is a malady that has crushed   the patience and resilience of the ordinary people, and breeds militant resistance and social aggression. It continues to divide the people and hinders the attainment of quality of life for all. Social and economic policies for development remained insensitive to the need for genuine sectoral participation, especially those sectors directly affected by those so-called “development” programs and projects.    Just and lasting peace requires the   creation and implementation of economic policies that seek the equitable distribution of the country’s wealth and the development of the natural resources primarily  for the good of all its citizens. Of utmost importance are age-old issues of land reform, national industrialization and protection of national patrimony. Thus, we feel the compelling need for the GRP and NDFP to resume the peace talks. They must address the issue of social and economic injustice in the Philippines. The Filipino nation will be grateful to them   if the initial steps are taken.

PEPP as a faith-based formation of peace advocates will leave no stones unturned in the promotion of the peace process. We will persist in peace education and peace building. We will continue to highlight the human misery that will continue in a situation of chronic social conflict. We will continue to encourage both parties to sustain the principled peace process and remind them of their responsibility to put an end to further loss of life as a result of the conflict. We will continue to remind all of the necessity to implement and put into practice mutually agreed best practices for just and lasting peace to flourish.