Listen to Pope Francis, leftists urge P-Noy | Inquirer Opinion
Letters to the Editor

Listen to Pope Francis, leftists urge P-Noy

/ 02:15 AM January 03, 2015

The National Democratic Front (NDF) has done significant steps lately to show its willingness to go to the negotiating table and resume the peace talks with the Philippine government. In an Inquirer interview, NDF’s chief political consultant Jose Ma. Sison said that he is willing to meet with President Aquino “if there is already a substantive agreement or if the meeting can be inspiring, as a confidence-building measure.” Sison also said that he is looking forward to the resumption of talks after the visit of Pope Francis in January.

In Mindanao, the NDF also recently released prisoners of war as a gesture of Christmas goodwill. “Tinitiyak din na may pagtupad ang gobyerno sa mga obligasyon ng gobyerno sa ilalim ng Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees at Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. Dapat palayain ang mga NDF consultants at ang 500 political prisoners (We are making sure that the government is complying with its obligation under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees [Jasig] and Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. The NDF consultants [in government custody] and 500 political prisoners should also be freed),” Sison said in a podcast.

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Is Mr. Aquino going to reciprocate? The government peace negotiators have confirmed in several instances that the peace talks are in the works, but the President has yet to issue a statement on the matter.

Instead, Malacanang spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said, when asked about the possible release of NDF consultants, that “there will be no preconditions” to the talks, an indication that the government is not willing to release political detainees. The NDF has clarified that the release of the detainees are “not preconditions” but “obligations” signed under Jasig. Put more simply, the talks cannot resume when the lives and liberty of the negotiators and consultants are kept in constant peril.

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President Aquino should set aside his hacendero family’s biases and heed the call for the resumption of the peace talks. He should muster the courage to work for genuine peace. The Filipino people are clamoring for an end to the armed conflict—a dream that can be realized by addressing the roots of poverty and inequality—an important part of which is genuine land reform, among other propoor programs.

President Aquino should learn from these words of Pope Francis: “Peace is the work of justice. Peace is not simply the absence of war, but is, ‘the work of righteousness’… It is important that special concern be shown for the poor, the vulnerable and those who have no voice.”

—VENCER CRISOSTOMO,
national chair, Anakbayan,
[email protected]

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TAGS: Joma Sison, Papal visit, Peace talks, Pope Francis, popeinph
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