International meet press for resumption of GPH-NDFP peace talks

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By Joey Natividad

CITY OF NAGA, BICOL REGION, 27July2013 (BicolToday.com) – The just-concluded 3-day international conference on human rights and peace held in Quezon City on July 19-22, has unanimously called for resumption of peace talks between the Philippine government (GPh) and the underground National Democratic Front (NDF), conference spokesperson Teddy Casiño informed BicolToday.com on Thursday.

“Hoping that international pressure would bring the GPH-NDFP talks back on track, peace advocates and rights defenders at the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (ICHRPP) called on the Aquino government to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front, citing poverty and the re-escalation of human rights abuses as the most compelling reasons to go back to the negotiating table,” Casiño said in a statement.
The ICHRPP held in Quezon City was attended by some 250 delegates, some came from countries in Africa and the Middle East..

“The landless peasants, the lack of decent wages and job opportunities, decent housing and basic social services are weighing down on the lives of the Filipino people and violate their socio-economic rights. Those who resist and work for change are met with political repression by the State. We want the peace negotiations resumed to help resolve such issues,” the delegates said in a press conference.

The ICHRPP added its voice to the call by local peace advocates for the resumption of the stalled talks on the basis of previously signed agreements, specifically the 1992 Hague Joint Declaration, the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

“We lament the fact that the Aquino government has practically terminated the talks by ignoring, or violating the 10 or so agreements previously signed by the GPH and NDFP. Aquino’s so-called ‘new approach’ of localized talks combined with counterinsurgency operations disregards and undermines all previous agreements, making the talks impossible,” said ICHRPP spokesperson Casino.

“The ICHRPP plans to focus international attention on the talks and compel both sides to go back to the negotiating table. International pressure worked in the past on the issue of human rights. We hope it works this time for the sake of peace,” said Casino.

Earlier this month, eight peace groups – the Sulong CARHRIHL, Pilgrims for Peace, Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP),Waging Peace Philippines, Generation Peace Youth Network, Women Engaged in Action 1325, Initiatives for International Dialogue, and Philippine Peace Center – issued a joint statement demanding a resumption of the talks, saying, “Time is of the essence. End the prolonged impasse. Resume the talks, now.” [BicolToday.com]

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