MANILA, June 10, 2011â€” A faith-based peace advocacy group is worried about the looming delay of the peace talks between the government and the communist rebels set this June.
In a statement, the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) said postponing the talks â€œdouses the jubilationâ€ that both parties had following its resumption in February.
National Democratic Front chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni earlier called for the talksâ€™ postponement until imprisoned rebels have been released.
Jalandoni is demanding the release of two NDF consultants, Allan Jazminez and Tirso Alcantara but the government rejected the appeal.
The NDF claims that Jazmines and Alcantara are covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
The government, through the Department of National Defense, however, refused to release the two saying that the NDF should not use the formal talks to secure their release.
â€œThe PEPP is apprehensive over the news that [the] second round of the formal peace talks between the government and the NDF, may not take place in June as scheduled, following an impasse,â€ it said.
The statement is signed by the PEPPâ€™s co-chairpersons Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ and Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremdes and Caloocan Bishop Deogracias IÃ±iguez as head of the secretariat.
The church leaders then urged both parties to remain focused on seeing the peace process through by honoring The Hague Joint Declaration and all other bilateral agreements.
â€œWe call on the two parties to follow the spirit of the JASIG as it is a crucial issue around the formal peace talks,â€ the PEPP said. â€œIts faithful implementation enables the two parties to resume the negotiations in earnest.â€
â€œOn the agenda of the formal peace talks are the social and economic reforms. This second substantive agenda is very central to the negotiations as it seeks solutions to address the roots of armed conflict that has afflicted our land for decades,â€ it added.
The PEPP also reiterated its call for the people to support the peace negotiations by being â€œvigilant lest groups or acts that undermine our aspiration for a just and lasting peace take the upper hand.â€
â€œA just and peaceful country is possible if we remain focused on the road to peace. We owe it to ourselves and the future generations,â€ it said.
PEPP claims to the largest ecumenical formation of church leaders in the Philippines. (CBCPNews)