IFI revives 90s peace campaign urging Duterte to resume talks

A Mindanao bishop announced that the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) has revived its special campaign for the resumption of the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Independent observer to the GRP-NDFP peace talks and IFI Cagayan de Oro Bishop Felixberto Calang announced last November 25 the revival of its IFI Peacemakers nationwide campaign first implemented during the Fidel Ramos government in the ‘90s, saying the peace process is not owned by the negotiating parties alone.

“If we leave the NDF and the government alone with the peace talks, they will only exchange responses that can lead to its end,” Calang said.

“Social and economic reforms are at stake at the peace talks, that’s why the Church said it’s better for us to form peace constituencies to push forward the peace talks,” he added.

The bishop called on GRP President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider Proclamation No. 360 he signed November 23 terminating the peace negotiations with the NDFP.

“We want the President to reconsider, since an all out war does not only affect the New People’s Army (NPA). The involvement of the civilians will be unavoidable,” Calang said.

The prelate said he sees the President as someone who is passionate about the peace talks, adding people around him perhaps influenced him into terminating the peace talks.

Calang also called on the NDF to reject the government’s decision to terminate the peace talks, saying it worked too hard on social and economic reforms to simply agree with Duterte’s decision.

“In fact, the NDFP has voluminous documents on social and economic reforms, which are beneficial to the people,” Calang said.

No formal notice to NDFP yet

The GRP has yet to formally notify the NDFP of its termination of the peace negotiations in accordance with their Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, however.

The NDFP said through its chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoli said they are still awaiting a formal letter of termination from the GRP.

In a later pronouncement, newly-appointed Presidential Spokesperson Sec. Harry Roque was quoted in news reports saying the GRP does not need to write and deliver a formal letter to the NDFP International Office in The Netherlands as Proclamation 360 should be enough notification.

In an interview with House of Representative reporters last week, however, GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III said he believes “deep in his heart that the peace talks may still be revived.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)