NDFP, government urged to return to negotiating table
After the exploratory talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on July 17 in Malaysia, which was apparently a success, a news report quoted Prof. Marvic Leonen, chief of the government negotiating panel, as saying that the peace “pact with the MILF is near…. Let us persevere now.” Now is indeed the time for peace.
Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief negotiator, was reportedly equally optimistic.
We trust that this is true. And we hope that the same thing shall happen with the negotiation between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The almost four decades of armed conflict between government and rebel forces have caused so much loss of precious lives among our peace-loving people.
The Ecumenical Bishops Forum calls on the government and the NDFP negotiating panels to immediately resume the stalled formal peace talks for the sake of our country and people. Obstacles to the resumption of the peace talks should be resolved soonest. We appreciate the call of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform for the “release on recognizance” of the detained NDFP consultants, together with its offer to take custody of them in order to pave the way for the resumption of the peace talks. We urge the government to take advantage of this sacrificial offer without requiring impossible demands or imposing unrealistic conditions.
The remaining substantial issues of the talks, if and when successfully addressed by both panels, will truly bring to pass that elusive peace the Filipino people have long been craving for. The design of the Creator of life is that peace based on justice should reign in the land, so that the land shall be enjoyed by all. “Then justice will reign through all the land, and out of justice, peace. Quietness and confidence will reign forevermore.” (Isaiah 32:16-17)
Let us all push for the peace talks to resume now. Now is indeed the time for peace.
The resolution of armed conflicts and the dawn of peace being among the priorities that President Aquino committed in his inaugural address two years ago, we had wanted to hear him say the same sentiment (that “now is indeed the time for peace”) in his third State of the Nation Address last Monday. In line with that, we also wanted to hear him order the government panel to return to the negotiating table within one month if not within one week.
—BISHOP ELMER M. BOLOCON,
executive secretary, MOST REV. DEOGRACIAS S. IÑIGUEZ JR., D.D. and BISHOP SOLITO K. TOQUERO, chairpersons,
Ecumenical Bishops Forum,
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