More than 60 members of the Philippine House of Representatives agreed to pass a bill urging the President to resume the peace negotiation between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
We, at PeaceBuilders Community, welcome this development despite its present unpopular appeal. We hear the popular sentiments that the government should not talk with those who are shooting our soldiers while their leaders are doing peace negotiations at the table. Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said this in a recent statement: “But these people, CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army), is insisting [to] fight and talk. I don’t believe in that. If we talk, we should stop fighting first.”
However, we see wisdom in a statement of our leaders at the Philippines Council of Evangelical Churches, with which, our hearts and minds resonate:
PCEC Statement of Support to House Resolution 1803 Calling for the Resumption of the GRP-NDFP Peace Talks
April 2, 2018
Following in the peaceful footsteps and transformative vision of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) resolutely supports initiatives that lead toward the realization of genuine peace for the Filipino people. In view of the stalled negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), PCEC commends the 61 lawmakers for signing House Resolution 1803 that calls on our President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to resume the peace talks. PCEC welcomes the Resolution and has consistently maintained that a just, lasting and sustainable peace cannot be achieved through armed means, but only through a determined and sincere commitment to see through the peace negotiations to its successful conclusion.
PCEC stands behind the noble aspirations of the GRP-NDFP peace talks, which in accordance to the 1992 Hague Declaration seek to put an end to decades of hostilities and to lift our country and our people out of poverty, social inequality, rural underdevelopment, environmental exploitation and other related concerns. These urgent social and economic issues are addressed in the proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), which is considered the very heart of the peace process. Last April 2017 during the fourth round of formal talks, both parties have agreed on the basic principle of agrarian reform, and to accelerate the process to finalize CASER. For reaching this point of the peace talks within just a year in office President Duterte, as well as the GRP-NDFP peace panels, deserve to be lauded. We earnestly urge them to continue and finish this all-important task for the benefit of the Filipino people.
Despite Proclamation No. 360 that halted the peace talks back in November 2017, PCEC holds out much hope because of the sincerity of the GRP and the NDFP to better the lives of our country’s marginalized sectors. We therefore call on President Duterte as the main overseer of our country’s welfare to lead in finding feasible ways that will overcome the current impasse, and to persist in the path of peaceful negotiations. We also call on both parties of the GRP and the NDFP to reaffirm and abide by all the bilateral agreements and statements as specified in the 2017 Utrecht Joint Statement. Finally, we call on our country’s Evangelical Christians to ardently offer prayers for our nation’s peace and genuine social transformation, and to join hands with all peace-loving advocates in calling for the immediate recommencement of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you” (2 Thessalonians 3:16).
For the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches:
Bishop Noel A. Pantoja