KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/16 Feb) — Peace advocates in Mindanao hailed the renewed talks between the government and the communist rebels saying the negotiations can become an opportunity to better understand the problems of the peoples in the region.
In a press statement, Bishop Modesto Villasanta, one of the convenors of the clergy-led “Sowing the Seeds of Peace,” said they hope the talks will enable both parties to lay down long-term reforms for the benefit of the people.
For Cagayan de Oro Mayor Vicente Emano, another convenor, the talks can be an opportunity to let the panels understand the problems in Mindanao.
The talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) began on Tuesday in Oslo, Norway.
“We welcome this with our fervent support. The coming talks are set to discuss social and economic reforms, the meat of any negotiated political settlement which is key to addressing the roots of the armed conflict in the country,” said Villasanta.
It is the first time in six years that the government and NDF peace panels met formally although their respective chairs have held informal talks in early December in Hong Kong and in Oslo in January.
Villasanta said that second most substantive agenda in the talks is the drafting of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-economic Reform.
Sowing the Seeds of Peace, which convened last Sunday in Cagayan de Oro, will be initiating consultations and forum to bring to the mainstream the Mindanao people’s agenda in the GPH-NDFP peace talks.
A workshop in Davao City is set on February 17 to 18 where 300 members from the clergy, peace and human rights advocates, lawyers, journalists and teachers, leaders and members of the organizations of workers, peasants, youth and women, are expected to participate in the drafting of the agenda.
“Heeding to the call of our flock for an enduring peace, and living up to the challenge of our pastoral imperatives, this is our contribution to the peace negotiations,” said Villasanta. (Malu Cadelina-Manar/MindaNews)