Friday, June 30, 2017

Peace advocates hopeful of resumption of talks

From the Website of PNA

Peace advocates hopeful of resumption of talks

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, June 30 -- The recommendation of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to suspend offensive operations from both the communist rebels and government forces as the conflict in Marawi City rages on is seen as “favorable conditions” for the resumption of the peace talks. 

Peace advocates such as Sowing the Seeds of Peace, Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, and Sisters Association in Mindanao have supported President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement when he said he would like to see “clear indications of an enabling environment conducive to achieve just and lasting peace.” 

The group issued the statement Friday to coincide with the first anniversary of President Rodrigo Duterte in office. Duterte assumed the presidency July 1, 2016 after the winning the presidential election in the May 2016 election. 

The groups said that while they are optimistic that both the government and the NDFP will eventually return to the negotiating table to craft the final touches of the peace talks, they are also concerned of cases of human rights violations being committed by state agents and paramilitary groups. 

They said the implementation of martial rule by Duterte at the start of the Marawi conflict on May 23 may have given members of the government forces license to commit various human rights violations. 

“The imposition of Martial Law, as result of the Marawi siege, has even emboldened the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] to intensify their attack on indigenous and Moro communities, human rights defenders and political activists,” the groups said in a joint statement. 

They cited an instance in Davao City where leaders of militant groups Karapatan and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas were allegedly held at a checkpoint because they were “suspicious looking.” 

“The spate of harassments of lumad schools has again led to suspension of classes and traumatization of children and teachers. Hundreds of thousands of indigenous peoples and Moro communities have been displaced due to aerial bombardments,” they said. 

They said the creation of an “enabling environment,” as what Duterte has stated in one of his speeches, should be a mutual task of the panels. 

“The [Philippine government] must also show its sincerity in protecting and advancing the rights of civilians in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law [CARHRIHL]. As signatory to the CARHRIHL, the government is obliged to uphold, protect, and promote the full scope of human rights, including civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights,” they added. 

Also, the suspension of the peace talks, the group emphasized, should not be used as pretext by the government to arrest and curtail the freedom of the NDFP negotiators, consultants and other personnel. 

“Even as the talks were put on hold by the government, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) is still in effect and binding,” they said. (Jigger J. Jerusalem/PNA)

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