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March 28, 2014

For the Sake of Peace, Resume Peace Talks Now!
(A Statement of the Pilgrims for Peace on the Resumption of Peace Negotiations between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front in the Philippines)

We, members of Pilgrims for Peace, want peace, harmony and prosperity in our land.

It has been quite some time now, 45 years to be exact, that armed conflict betweent he GPH and the CPP-NPA-NDFP has been going on with no let-up. Hundreds if not thousands of people, combatants and non-combatants alike, have died, civilian communities have been displaced and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law are rife. Many of them have lost their lives in the quest for a just and lasting peace so that fellow Filipinos may live a life that is full and fulfilling.

The root causes of the armed conflict must be addressed.

The arrest of the Tiamzons and five others have once again brought to the fore and back into the general publicís attention the armed conflict as well as the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the issues that have stalled the peace talks for about three years.

The peace talks have been stalled over issues on the compliance with or violation of bilateral agreements entered into by both parties, especially The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

We call on both parties to clear the air by sitting down to discuss and resolve disagreements, differences in interpretation, alleged and actual violations of the agreements and avail of the provisions and mechanisms they had put in place precisely to remove such obstacles in order to advance the peace negotiations.

By going back to the table of peace negotiations that will substantially discuss and address the roots of the armed conflict, the Filipino people will have every reason to be optimistic once more.

Currently, the GPH-NDFP peace talks are at an impasse but not terminated. In fact, the negotiating panels of both the GPH and the NDFP have not been dissolved. But while the two panels are not talking, violations of human rights are increasing and intensifying, poverty grips majority of our people and hunger remains a daily reality that afflicts the poorest of all. This must push both panels to resume the talks and tackle the pending second substantive agenda on Socio-Economic Reforms.

We want peace in our land. We want harmony among our people. We want progress for our country. These will come to pass only when we start working together, feeding on justice and righteousness.

We call on both parties to honor all their prior bilateral agreements, big and small, especially the framework agreement or The Hague Joint Declaration, the CARHRIHL and the JASIG in order for the peace negotiations to advance and reach its desired conclusion of a just and lasting peace

Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes Jr.





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