Peace and human rights advocates welcomed the expressed willingness of some presidential candidates to reopen peace negotiations with communist rebels if elected.
In several media interviews, four presidential aspirants – Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo, Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, and Manila City Mayor Francisco Moreno Domagoso – said they would revive the peace talks if given the chance to win the presidency in this year’s elections.
“If these four presidential candidates are committing to the peace talks, that’s a welcome for us peace advocates and Churches,” said Bishop Felixberto Calang, head of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and convenor of the group Sowing the Seeds of Peace.
“Our society needs to pursue peace talks with the rebel groups because the purpose of going to the negotiating table is to address the root cause of the armed conflict,” said the bishop.
He said that after more than 50 years of waging war against the revolutionary movement, “the military might have been tested to be a failure.”
He said a peace agreement should address the “roots of poverty and discrimination.” “It is important for governance so people’s lives could be uplifted,” added the prelate.
Cristina Palabay, secretary general of rights group Karapatan, also welcomed the pronouncements of the candidates, but said it entails “commitment to the call for just and lasting peace.”
She urged those running in the elections who would like to enter the talks to uphold previous agreements such as the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the Joint Agreement for Safety and Immunity Guarantees.