An ecumenical church group renewed its call on the Philippine government and communist rebels this week to revive the stalled peace negotiations.
“[The] Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) enjoins our people to celebrate the International Day of Peace and let us call on the government to prioritize the country’s healing,” the group said in a statement.
The United Nations has declared September 21 as International Day of Peace, sometimes officially known as World Peace Day.
The peace group composed of church leaders from various faiths said “healing can be best exemplified” if both the government and the rebels “will come to an understanding and resume the peace talks.”
The peace negotiations gained momentum during the early months of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte with rounds of talks being conducted in Europe. It was, however, terminated by the national government in 2017.
On the commemoration of the International Day of Peace, with the theme “Recovering Better for an Equitable and Sustainable World,” PEPP appealed to both the government and the rebels to give peace talks a try.
“Let us also call on the [government] and the [national Democratic Front of the Philippines] to join the whole world in this historic occasion by returning to the negotiating table and together put an end to further human rights violations and the loss of life as a result of the conflict,” read the PEPP statement.
The group acknowledged that the quest for peace in relation to the decades-old conflict between the state and the rebels “has become elusive again” and achieving it will remain an insurmountable task.
PEPP said the tagging of the rebels as terrorists “effectively buried years of laborious and painstaking agreements and gradual steps toward peace.”
With the breakdown of the peace negotiations, significant increases in armed encounters between the Philippine military and the communist rebels have been recorded and there were many recorded violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, said the peace group.
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