An ecumenical peace advocacy group has voiced concern at a suspension in peace negotiations between the government and communist rebels. The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP)
, the largest ecumenical formation of Church leaders in the country, said the delay in starting talks scheduled for this month "douses the jubilation" that followed the re-opening of peace negotiations in February. The group said in a statement that it is "apprehensive" over reports that formal talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)
may not take place after reaching an impasse. NDFP chief negotiator, Luis Jalandoni, called for the talks to be suspended after the government refused to release two rebel “consultants”. "As a Church-based peace advocate, we urge the two parties to remain focused on seeing the peace process through," the statement read. The organization called on both sides to honor existing formal agreements and also reiterated its call for the people to support the peace process. "Primarily, our task is to be vigilant lest groups or acts that undermine our aspiration for a just and lasting peace gain the upper hand," the group said. "A just and peaceful country is possible if we remain focused on the road to peace. We owe it to ourselves and future generations," it added.