The Citizens Alliance for Just Peace urges President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to reconsider pronouncements that he is suspending peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. As peace advocates, we urge both parties that hopeful and sober thinking must guide their actions: scuttling the peace talks would bring monumental disappointment for those striving to build a just and enduring peace in our land. The significant gains of the GRP-NDFP peace talks are at stake—peace is for everyone, though most especially for those who live in grinding poverty who have the most to gain from a more just and equitable society.
Respecting and implementing agreements signed between the GRP and NDFP like the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) will go a long way in moving the peace negotiations forward. The CARHRIHL supplemental guidelines just signed in Rome, Italy before the 3rd round of talks under the Duterte administration should be robustly engaged to address human rights violations in communities. The absence of reciprocal, unilateral ceasefires should not unhinge our efforts for building peace.
Likewise, the negotiations for a Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) are intended to take seriously issues like land reform and national industrialization which have been identified as essential in addressing the root causes of the armed conflict. The peace talks should wholeheartedly prioritize achieving the substantive agreements that both parties have agreed to pursue. The gains that have been achieved through the talks are significant and the energy had been markedly positive and productive in the first three rounds of GRP-NDFP peace talks under the Duterte administration.
The voice of every peace-loving Filipino is greatly needed at this time to convey our collective hope for the GRP-NDFP peace talks to prosper toward the attainment of a just and lasting peace in the Philippines. Gains toward JustPeace must not be imprudently sacrificed—we must exercise a unified resolve to fastidiously overcome every obstacle to building peace in our nation. In addressing the root causes of the armed conflict through the substantive agenda of the GRP-NDFP peace talks as well as honoring and implementing the agreements that have been successfully forged, the peace negotiations can continue to flourish. We rise above doomsday declarations to urge President Rody Duterte to keep his eyes on the horizon of hope and work for the Filipino people’s peace and prosperity!
Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, JR., D.D, Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform
Rechie Tugawin, Waging Peace
Joeven Reyes, Sulong CARHRIHL
Rev. Irma Balaba, Pilgrims for Peace