Philippine church group renews call for talks with rebels

Church leaders make appeal for resumption of discussiond to incoming lawmakers following their election last month
Philippine church group renews call for talks with rebels

An activist holds a poster calling for peace during a demonstration in Manila to protest the killing of a rebel peace consultant in January. (Photo by Jire Carreon) reporter, Manila
June 7, 2019
An ecumenical church group in the Philippines has once again reiterated calls for the resumption of peace negotiations between the government and communist rebels.

The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) made the call in an appeal issued to incoming members of Congress following their election last month.

The PEPP is composed of the country's Catholic bishops' conference, the Protestant's national council of churches, the Association of Major Religious Superiors, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, and the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum.

In a statement, the peace group noted that while some candidates have pledged to work on the resumption of talks, most of those who won during the polls have remained silent.

"This is unfortunate," the PEPP said in a statement. "Peace negotiations are an issue that every Filipino should feel strongly about," it added.

The church group said "peace based on justice" is a cornerstone for development while the roots of the armed conflict, including poverty, should be addressed.

In May, exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison called on President Rodrigo Duterte to resume talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The NDFP is the umbrella group of all communist-led underground organizations that has been conducting on-and-off peace talks with the government since 1986.

The talks broke down in November 2017 with the government accusing rebel fighters of mounting attacks on government troops despite the ongoing negotiations. Duterte later terminated the peace discussions.

The government later proposed pursuing "localized peace talks," which the rebels rejected.

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