PEPP Statement: Adverse Repercussions to Peace of Resolution Number 17 (2021) by the Anti-Terrorism Council

The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) sounds its alarm over the inclusion of peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the Resolution Number 17 (2021) by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC). The said resolution designated the peace consultants as alleged Central Committee members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. This will have far reaching and adverse repercussions on the GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations which the PEPP has faithfully supported and advocated for.

The list includes Rey Claro Casambre of the Philippine Peace Center among other consultants that were part of the GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations.   Mr. Casambre is a publicly known peace advocate and participant in the GRP-NDFP peace talks. His expertise in relation to the peace process has contributed to the ministry and advocacy of PEPP as a resource person for our various activities.

We wholeheartedly believe in the sincerity of both the GRP and NDFP peace panels in their efforts to reach a negotiated peace settlement. However, we    are saddened that the termination of the formal peace talks led to the imprisonment of Mr. Casambre and his co-consultants – who participated in the talks in good faith – while others like Randy Malayao and Randall Echanis were even killed. Besides, according to the Public Interest Law Center, their clients, including Mr. Casambre, “already disclaimed to the court and the public ties to terrorist organizations and involvement in any terrorist activities[1]”.

Thus, we express our utter dismay over Resolution Number 17 (2021) and we reiterate our stand against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 that it will not serve to end the conflicts of our land. The breakdown of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations along with the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Law have contributed significantly to an increase in human rights violations and the worsening climate of impunity in the country.

As Christian leaders, our opposition to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 “is based on our enduring call for broader peace. A peace that is not just silencing of the voices of dissent and the incarceration and destruction of lives that are defined as terrorists.   But a peace that addresses the root causes of dissent and seeks resolution by negotiation”[2]. It is our unwavering belief that principled dialogue across the negotiating table is still the most viable way, and less costly in terms of lives and resources, to attain a just and lasting peace.

We call on the Filipino people to steadfastly pray and work for the resumption of the formal peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP. This call is based on our enduring faith in Jesus Christ, who is our love, our hope and our peace. “For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” (1 TIMOTHY 4:10, NRSV)

Issued and Signed on this day 15th day of May, 2021.

Abp. Emeritus Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ,
Co-chairperson, PEPP
Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro

Bishop Rex B. Reyes, Jr.
Co-chairperson, PEPP
Ecumenical Bishops Forum

Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigz a
General Secretary, NCCP

Rev. Dr. Aldrin Penamora
Executive Director, PARC-PCEC

Sr. Mary John D. Manazan, OSB

Bishop Emeritus Deogracias S. Iniguez, Jr.
Head of the Secretariat