Rising prospect for end of armed conflicts in PH
We congratulate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for obtaining a resounding leadership mandate from the Filipino voters. His commitment to address the roots of armed conflicts in our nation through peace negotiations and to correct the historical injustices committed against the Moro people is commendable. Addressing the situation of different communities, Moro, Christian, non-Christian and lumad—especially as the lumad suffer forcible displacement and urgently clamor for an end to militarization and the disbanding of paramilitary groups in their ancestral lands—is imperative. Prospects for peace throughout the nation are rising and we are excited and energized by Duterte’s very positive pronouncements on resuming peace talks.
Pilgrims for Peace is a multisectoral alliance of advocates for a just and lasting peace based on freedom, democracy and social justice. Pilgrims for Peace appreciates that in his campaign platform Duterte prioritized peace, in general, as well as explicitly outlined his openness to take concrete steps in moving the Philippine government (GPH)-National Democratic Front (NDF) peace negotiations forward. Duterte’s appointment of Jesus Dureza as peace adviser and Silvestre Bello as chief negotiator with the NDF underscores his resolve.
We encourage Duterte to place the GPH-NDF peace negotiations on firm footing by respecting previously signed agreements and continue to advance the substantive agenda outlined in The Hague Joint Declaration. Not only do we affirm the value of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in our justice, peace and human rights advocacy, we, peace advocates, have been preparing ourselves to support the crafting of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms and look forward to its fruition.
We are heartened by Duterte’s willingness to release all political prisoners. Even during his campaign, we noted that his administration would review their status and release those necessary to the NDF negotiating panel; we affirm that such action will be greatly beneficial, if not essential, to successful peace negotiations. This can also bring to good order and reoperationalize the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees. Even more, releasing political prisoners on humanitarian grounds would surely go a long way as a confidence-building measure.
With anticipation for what is to come, we are calling our network of peace advocates to contribute in the work of peace-building. Our people understand the need to address the roots of armed conflicts in building a just and enduring peace. We hope that with Duterte’s presidency, we can also contribute to creating and focusing energy around the peace talks.
—BISHOP DEOGRACIAS IÑIGUEZ, BISHOP ARTURO ASI, REV. REX RB REYES, REV. RAMIL AGUILAR and 21 other Pilgrims for Peace convenors
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