Religious leaders and peace advocates have praised the announcement of the potential revival of the formal peace talks between the Philippine government and communist rebels.
The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said November 28 they have agreed to resume the negotiations to end a decades-old conflict.
“The parties agree to a principled and peaceful resolution of the armed conflict,” said a joint statement issued by both sides that was signed in the Norwegian capital of Oslo on November 23.
Faith-based group Pilgrims for Peace commended both parties for expressing “awareness of difficult economic and environmental realities,” which the group said are “sensible and worthy grounds for a productive restart of the peace process”.
In a statement signed by Catholic Bishop Gerardo Alminaza and Obispo Maximo XIII Rhee Timbang of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, the group expressed hopes that the peace talks “can contribute to realizing a just and enduring peace”.
Pilgrims for Peace called for the urgent release of jailed NDFP peace consultants and the removal of NDFP’s terrorist designation.
The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) said the joint statement “is truly a remarkable gift for peace advocates in the country.”
“It is a glorious positive sign marking the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” the group said in a statement.
“We reiterate our call for the two parties to resume the formal peace talks earnestly to address the roots of the armed conflict so that a Final Peace Agreement may come to pass,” the statement read.
PEPP encouraged both parties to resolve “various barriers to peace” through “dialogue and principled negotiations”.
We call on all people of goodwill to continue working and praying for peace. Let us support this effort by the two parties and the third-party facilitator, the Royal Norwegian Government,” the statement read.
Signatories in the PEPP’s statement were retired Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J., Anglican Bishop Rex B. Reyes, Jr., Evangelical Bishop Noel A. Pantoja, Minnie Anne M. Calub of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Sr. Mary John D. Mananzan, OSB, and retired Bishop Deogracias S. Iniguez, Jr.