Group lauds possible resumption of GRP-NDFP talks

JAKARTA, Indonesia—Mindanao peace advocates lauded the possible resumption of peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) following an exchange of positive statements from their respective leaders.

Independent peace talks observer and Sowing the Seeds of Peace in Mindanao main convenor Bishop Felixberto Calang said their group joins the “many jubilant voices” in welcoming the promised resumption of the negotiations.

Calang said they are hoping for the eventual signing of agreements on social and economic reforms, the release of political prisoners, and the upholding the agreement on human rights and international humanitarian law.

“The (possible) resumption of the talks shows that President (Rodrigo) Duterte himself is the decisive protagonist who can provide the ‘enabling environment’ for the sustainability of the (peace process), Calang said in a statement.

Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza announced Wednesday that Duterte has ordered his negotiators to work for the possible resumption of the talks, a move welcomed by the NDFP.

The NDFP through its chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison for its part said it remains open and ready to resume the talks.

Calang, however, cautioned against peace spoilers out to permanently scuttle the talks.

This is a second life for the peace talks (with the Duterte government). The Filipino people must not allow hawkish vultures to lead it astray again to a tragic end,” Calang said, noting “dark clouds…hover(ing) above the process such as the terrorist-witchunt list, Martial Law in Mindanao, and the widespread militarization of Lumad communities.

“All of these need to be addressed or considered if we wish for the talks to proceed with a good start,” Calang said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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