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Various groups urge gov’t to continue peace talks with Left



Feb. 06, 2017

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Various non-government organizations across the country are urging President Rodrigo Duterte not to back out from the peace talks with the communists.

They also warned the all-out war approach will affect communities and civilians.

Human rights group Karapatan said Duterte should rethink his statement on the termination of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines after the president announced the termination of the peace talks with the NDFP.

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general said Duterte should be prepared to encounter problems in solving the armed conflict.

“Both Parties have expressed that the road to a just and lasting peace is not an easy one, but has several bumps and roadblocks,” she said.

Palabay added that it is the Army who is sabotaging the peace talks.

“Pres. Duterte should see that one big roadblock is the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) being warmongers and peace saboteurs, within and outside the peace process,” she said citing cases of political killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests and detention, threats and harassment in the communities.

“The AFP’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan was still in play, with the military’s so-called “peace and development” teams coercing and threatening local government officials and residents as they continued to encamp in peasants’ homes, schools, and barangay halls. This is the reason why the residents, the victims and their families have repeatedly called on the GRP to pull out the AFP troops from their communities and to stop Oplan Bayanihan,” she said.

Palabay said “militarist” approach to ending insurgency will not solve the rebellion in the country.

Karapatan has recorded that at least four peasant activists were killed by state security forces in January this year.

On February 3, Lumad leader Renato Anglao, 42, of the Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association was killed by three men on board a motorcycle.

Karapatan said TINDOGA, an indigenous people’s organization of the Manobo-Pulangion tribe in Barangay Botong, Quezon, Bukidnon, has consistently opposed the entry of agri-business plantations in the ancestral land of the lumad. The group was also accused of supporting the NPAs.

“Ultimately, it is the people who will suffer from the absence of GRP-NDFP official peace talks,” Palabay said.

Meanwhile, the Northern Luzon Peace Network said they are worried that violence will “revisit many communities, particularly those occupied by indigenous peoples.”

“The events in the past few days have been extremely worrying for us, tribal groups, church organizations and nongovernment organizations in the Cordillera and in Cagayan province,” it said in a statement.

“We now appeal to them to not lose sight of the long-awaited gains that a peace agreement will bring, particularly for the country’s poorest sectors,” it added.

Various tribes in Compostela Valley Province also said the six-month unilateral ceasefire declared by both sides brought peace to their communities.

“We, the Manguangan, Dibabawon and Mandaya tribes in Laak, Monkayo and Compostela in Compostela Valley, therefore, call on the government and the CPP-NPA to keep talking. We urge them to build on the gains from the three previous rounds of formal negotiations,” it said.(davaotoday.com)






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