Uphold human rights, rebuild confidence in peace process | Inquirer Opinion

Uphold human rights, rebuild confidence in peace process

/ 04:05 AM February 27, 2023

We are peace advocates in Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia concerned with the human rights situation and roadblocks to the peaceful and just resolution of armed conflicts in the Philippines.

Recent events, including the terrorist designation of community doctor Naty Castro, and the arrest of Jennifer Awingan of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, demonstrate that defenders of human rights and indigenous people continue to be systematically targeted by the authorities.

Additionally, we are concerned that the Philippine government has failed to renew talks to peacefully resolve the long-running armed conflict in the countryside. Twenty years ago on March 16, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law was signed between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as a result of the formal peace talks between the GRP and NDFP. We believe it is time for the Marcos Jr. administration to review and honor this agreement by restarting the GRP-NDFP peace talks.


To support the cause of promoting peace and human rights in the Philippines, we urge President Marcos Jr. to immediately:

  • Stop the unjust terrorist labeling of Dr. Naty Castro and all community advocates.
  • Drop the rebellion charge and all trumped-up cases against Jennifer Awingan and all community advocates.
  • Stop military and police violence against communities standing against destructive mining operations.
  • Free all elderly political prisoners, including NDFP peace consultants, Rey Claro Casambre, Vicente Ladlad, and many others unjustly detained for their political beliefs.
  • Free Sen. Leila de Lima and over 700 ordinary civilians and community advocates presently languishing in jail on trumped-up, politically motivated charges.
  • Defund and dismantle the notorious National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and other government machinery that seriously endanger civilian lives through systematic Red-tagging, intimidation, threats, and harassment that often lead to enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.

The world is watching. We, too, in Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia will continue to monitor and raise concerns on the wave of unjust arrests, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings. Unity and dialogue would be truly meaningful if your administration will take the above actions to uphold human rights and rebuild confidence in the peace process.


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TAGS: human rights, Letters to the Editor, peace process

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