Philippine Peace Center
4/F Kaija Bldg. 7836 Makati Ave cor Valdez
St.,Makati City, MM
16 November 2014
CBCP President’s statement a disservice to GPH-NDFP peace negotiations
The Philippine Peace Center deplores the recent statement of CBCP
President Abp. Socrates Villegas for rendering a disservice to the
GPH-NDFP peace negotiations that could undermine ongoing efforts being
undertaken towards the resumption of formal talks. The statement makes an
erroneous and rash judgement that the negotiations have achieved nothing
so far. It then blames one party, the NDFP, for this by casting aspersions
on its sincerity and integrity on the basis of self-serving reports from
the other party, the GPH. The CBCP is thereby unwittingly made to echo
false accusations and play into the hands of those who wish and scheme for
the peace talks to remain in an impasse until it collapses entirely.
The quest for truth and fairness demands diligently studying the question,
especially a contentious one, from many perspectives. In this case one
must at least verify the veracity of the GPH claims. Abp. Villegas
deplores as a stumbling block to the peace negotiations the purported
disunity between the NDFP panel and the NPA as reported by the GPH panel.
Has he paused to reflect even for a moment on the deep divisions and
deadly rivalries among factions within the GPH, not the least between
hawks and doves, and how these have caused the peace talks to falter and
stall many times under different administrations since the time of
President Corazon Aquino? Is he aware of the big divide between the
current Aquino administration, particularly its peace and security cluster
on one hand, and previous administrations and government negotiating
panels on the other, on whether or not the GPH should return to the
negotiating table and honor the GPH’s bilateral agreements with the NDFP?
The statement of Abp. Villegas also echoes the claim of the current GPH
panel, the OPAPP and the defense establishment that the peace talks have
achieved nothing over the past two decades. We urge His Excellency to
examine The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 that sets the framework and
foundation for the talks, the subsequent agreements on safety and immunity
guarantees, ground rules for the talks, formation of reciprocal working
committees tasked to craft tentative agreements, and most especially the
Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International
Humanitarian Law which, if implemented in earnest by both sides, could
significantly reduce human rights violations especially in the conflict
areas and mitigate the dire effects of war even while the basic reforms
that would lead to a just and lasting peace are still being negotiated.
We wonder how much, if at all, the CBCP President had sought and taken
into account the views of the many bishops and archbishops, all of them
respected and well known for their wisdom and well-loved for their deep
concern for the poor and downtrodden, who have joined -- nay, are in the
forefront of -- calls for the resumption of the GPH-NDFP peace
negotiations, for honoring all the agreements between the two parties, and
for addressing the roots of the armed conflict?
We call on the good bishops and archbishops who have diligently followed
the developments in the peace negotiations and conscientiously supported
and accompanied it the past two decades to inform and update the entire
CBCP, especially their President and Permanent Council, on the true state
and intricacies of the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations, and weigh in on the
decisions and actions of the CBCP with regard to the entire peace process.
We urge peace advocate groups such as Kapayapaan -- Campaign for a Just
and Lasting Peace, Pilgrims for Peace, the Philippine Ecumenical Peace
Platform, Citizens’ Alliance for Just Peace, among others, to also engage
and constantly inform and update the CBCP on the peace process and the
peace negotiations in particular.
We implore His Excellency Abp. Villegas to pray and strive for a more
informed and enlightened understanding of the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations.
Only in this way could he properly shepherd and guide the clergy and laity
under his pastoral watch in playing a positive and welcome role in the
negotiations, thereby contributing to the attainment of a just and lasting
Reference: Rey Claro C. Casambre, Executive Director, Philippine Peace
Tel: +639436861956 (up to Nov 27); email@example.com