Peace Advocates Call for Return to the Negotiating Table | BICOL TODAY

Peace Advocates Call for Return to the Negotiating Table

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

Kapayapaan, an alliance of advocates for a just peace, deplores President Rodrigo Duterte’s sudden and unjustified cancellation/termination of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), ordering the re-arrest of NDFP consultants, tagging the CPP-NPA-NDF as “terrorists” and threatening legal activists with arrests.

These constitute a complete turnaround from his avowed policy of talking peace with the CPP-NPA-NDFP to end close to five decades of armed conflict in the country by negotiating much-needed socio-economic and political reforms.

Just peace is an overarching concern for millions of Filipinos. This was the basis for the popular support the peace negotiations enjoyed during the initial months of the Duterte administration, when hopes for significant changes became possible with both sides exhibiting openness to resolve the roots of the armed conflict.

The road to a just peace under the Deterte presidency, however, have been littered with grave obstacles, as military operations in the countryside continued without let up under its counter-insurgency campaign ironically termed “Oplan Kapayapaan”. Thousands of Filipinos, including women and children, have been killed without due process under the war on illegal drugs, and killings and arrests against peasant leaders and activists continued with impunity. The bombing and destruction of Marawi City, with the real death toll and damage to civilian properties still unclear, is also an additional thorn to the peace process, with calls for justice by the affected victims, remaining unheeded by the Duterte administration.

These actions only served to sabotage the peace process, and hamper the confidence and goodwill measures carried out by both sides during the initial months of the Duterte Presidency. Such actions harmful to the people do not, and never will, constitute a “favorable environment” for the peace negotiations which the government panel itself has repeatedly tried to set as a precondition for resuming the peace process.

That armed clashes continue to occur between government forces and the CPP-NPA-NDF is all the more reason to return to the negotiating table. The quest for just peace is a complicated process that requires perseverance amidst difficulties, wisdom in handling disagreements and a sincerity to bring about significant reforms as the people demand. It cannot be solved with armed might and threats and actual harming of defenseless civilians, particularly activists and community leaders.

Neither will demonizing the CCP-NPA-NDF by arbitrarily labeling them as “terrorist” like the ISIS achieve anything precisely because the NDF-led revolutionary movement has been consistent in its advocacy for the interests of the peasantry for land reform as a starting point for genuine national industrialization. Popular support from the downtrodden sectors of our society shall remain and even grow wider as the NDF continues to embody these aspirations. The experiences of past presidencies have shown that no amount of warmongering, ranting and saber-rattling can work against a people determined and united in its pursuit of just and lasting peace.

Kapayapaan urges the Duterte administration to return to the peace table, and do the hard work of hammering a peace agreement acceptable to both sides and to the Filipino people and avert the prolongation of a civil war fuelled by long-standing social injustice and violations of the people’s democratic rights.

Kapayapaan likewise enjoins the Filipino people to continue to champion the cause of just and lasting peace, and resist efforts to foster the peace of the graveyard that result from warmongering, saber-rattling and authoritarian rule.

 Fr. Ben Alforque and Sharon Cabusao – spokespersons

Posted by on November 24, 2017. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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