Churches urge resumption of GRP-NDFP peace talks amid pandemic, “reign of terror”

SIGNED. Government peace panel chair SIlvestre Bello III (r) and NDF peace panel chair FIdel Agcaoili exchange copies of the Interim Joint Ceasefire Agreement signed on April 5, 2017 in The Netherlands. but will take effect only when the guidelines and ground rules are approved. President Rodrigo Duterte called off the talks in November 2017 and declared the CPP-NPA as terrorists. Photo courtesy of OPAPP

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 25 February) – Saying the breakdown of the peace negotiations between the Philippine government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) “has contributed significantly to the increase in human rights violations and the worsening climate of impunity in the country,” an ecumenical group urged yet again for the resumption of the talks.

In a statement issued Monday, the Philippine Ecumenical Platform for Peace said it “cannot stand idly by watching the reign of terror, due to draconian measures imposed, to continue spreading faster than the unseen virus that has devastated economies and caused untold suffering to the millions of the vulnerable in the Philippines.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted the peace process between the GRP and the NDFP as the negotiations were supposed to resume after the successful backchannel talks toward the end of 2019,” it said.

“Bringing back to the negotiating table the peace process would allow both parties to resume work on the halted Interim Peace Agreement that would pave the way for a final negotiated settlement,” it added.

Former GRP peace panel chair Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and NDFP interim chief peace negotiator Juliet de Lima expressed openness to the continuation of the peace process during the two-day virtual 9th Ecumenical Church Leaders’ Summit on Peace last week.

The conference also tackled reports on human rights violations across the country. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)