Parties begin second day with a Holy Mass

NOORDWIJK AAN ZEE, The Netherlands—The mood considerably improved between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) this morning, helped by a Holy Mass celebrated by Tuguegarao Archbishop and first time peace talks observer Sergio Utleg.

Panel members of both parties attended what probably is the first celebration of a Holy Roman Catholic Mass during the negotiations since the peace talks started in 1986.

In his homily, Utleg extolled the parties to “work harder for peace.”

“Peace be with you. But for Christ’s peace to pervade over our land, we need men and women of peace,” Utleg said.

We trust that our negotiators on both sides will be anointed by God’s Spirit so that His sons and daughters in (our) land that has already been drenched by so much blood may at least walk the ways of peace,” Utleg added.

The Archbishop is an active supporter of the peace process, repeatedly hosting peace forums within his jurisdiction.

After the celebration, the parties immediately retreated to a room to resume their informal talk in an effort to proceed with the formal round.

Backchannel talks were also held during breakfast and in between the informal talk.

The parties continue to refuse to divulge details of their informal talks to the media but are hinting the formal opening may still proceed within the day. # (Raymund B. Villanueva/Photo by Jola Diones-Mamangun)