The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) has released a statement on Tuesday, December 20, extending “deepest sympathies” to the family and friends of Prof. Jose Maria Sison, former chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and chief political consultant of the peace panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Sison, who launched one of the world’s longest-running Maoist insurgencies, has died at 83, on Saturday, December 17.
The former university professor died in the Netherlands, where he had lived in self-imposed exile since the collapse of peace talks in 1987, when the rebellion that has claimed tens of thousands of lives was at its peak.
“The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform is one with the wish of Prof. Sison for the [Government of the Republic of the Philippines]-NDFP peace talks to resume,” read the PEPP statement released to the media.
“Let us continue the common journey for a just and enduring peace in the Philippines,” it added.
The Church groups noted that in the coming days, “a significant portion of our population will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.”
“During this season of hope, let us remember what Jesus taught us: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God,’” read the PEPP statement.
The group noted that “Sison is many things to many people.”
“Some have idolized him for forming the CPP and then the New People’s Army when he was a young man, while others have vilified him for the same reason,” said the group.
“For peace advocates like the PEPP, we choose to see him as a man of peace who was fully involved in the NDFP peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines,” it added.
The group said Sison “was one of the main movers in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.”
“He helped in crafting The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 which laid the foundation and substantive agenda of the formal peace talks,” it said, adding that the late rebel leader “was a constant in the peace talks between the two parties and was heavily involved in the negotiations.”
“His involvement in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations is, therefore, a testament to his desire to attain peace through principled dialogue that addresses the root causes of the armed conflict,” said the group.
The statement was signed by Archbishop Emeritus Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, co-chairperson of PEPP, and Rt. Revd. Rex B. Reyes, Jr. of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum.
The PEPP is a platform for five Church institutions/groups, namely, the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines, National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines with organizations of Religious, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, and the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum in their work for peace.
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