By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr.
SORSOGON CITY, 29July2013 (BicolToday.com) – The Catholic Bishop in this province welcomes the call by Governor Raul Lee last week for resumption of peace talks.
Bishop Bastes on Saturday said: “The role of the diocese with regard to peace talks maybe as, a conciliator, mediator perhaps where the commitment of the parties are fully expressed and it should be in the light of preserving life.”
The diocese believes that there should never be a pre-condition, or impositions so the parties can return to the negotiating table.
“We can monitor its implication in our level” was how the Bishop sees the church participation. This is in reference to the influence of the church hierarchy seen by local folks as a way to redeem their sad plight in the society.
Last week, Governor Lee urged for the resumption of peace talks, even at the local level, after the province was rocked by series of firefights between rebel New People’s Army (NPA) and Army soldiers in the towns of Juban, Irosin, Gubat, and Casiguran first week of July.
In the Juban fighting on July 4, eight rebels belonging to the rebels’ information bureau were killed in an Army assault. Two days later, NPAs in retaliation mounted 3 coordinated attacks on Army and police units in the towns of Gubat, Irosin, and Casiguran.
The NPAs claimed killing 8 soldiers and wounded several others in Irosin and Casiguran attacks, but the Army high command did not confirm the body counts.
The Governor’s call for local peace talks was rejected by the Europe-based National Democratic Front (NDFP) and the Sorsogon rebel group, Celso Minguez Command. In a communique, Luis Jalandoni, chair of the NDFP negotiating panel wanted the resumption of peace talk at the national level.
“Any attempt for local peace talk is a government ploy to split the ranks of the revolutionary movement, this is part of the ‘new approach’ strategy in their counter-insurgency,” said Jalandoni.
“Peace Be With You” was how the Catholic prelate would want for every Sorsoganons to have, the reaction was made when the question was raised if he is in accord with the call of Governor Lee urging President Aquino and the NDFP to restart the peace process from where they have stumbled.
It will be recalled that the governor issued a press statement urging the warring parties to restart the negotiation and deal with the issues that derail the conciliation of the warring parties leading to a comprehensive peace talk.
“The governor rationale approach of having a peace process in line with the national desire to achieve peace is a laudable effort, I am happy about it,” said the bishop.
Addressing the plight of our brothers in the hill, Bastes said that the church in a way have parallel concern with them, citing, mining, environmental abuse, poverty as core issues which they both are concerned. “We have a common ground with these issues.”
“Our desire here for peace may not be the same with the other dioceses,” said the bishop. “But, it is always peace that we wanted.” [BicolToday.com]