A group of religious leaders called PEPP (Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform) on Friday, December 8 urged President Rodrigo Duterte to withdraw his proclamation declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, as terror organizations. The group also asked the president to resume the peace talks.
“This new development is indeed very tragic as there were high hopes a year ago that peace will be achieved through the negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP after five decades of armed conflict.” PEPP, which serves as a platform for five church institutions in the country, said in a statement.
“This new proclamation will have far reaching and adverse repercussions on the GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations which the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) has faithfully supported and advocated. It is always the policy of the government not to negotiate with “terrorists” and this will seal the fate of the peace talks.” It added.
“We thus call on President Duterte to rescind both proclamations and we implore both the GRP and the NDFP to return to the negotiating table – to talk peace instead of waging war.” PEPP further said, noting that they are worried because President Duterte’s declaration of CPP-NPA as terrorists will surely escalate of violence across the country.
The five church institutions that compose PEPP are Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) with organizations of Religious, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) and the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum (EBF).
PEPP’s officials are Cagayan de Oro City Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, co-chairperson; Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes, National Council of Churches in the Philippines, co-chairperson; Bishop Noel Pantoja, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, national president; Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, Ecumenical Bishops Forum, PEPP Head of the Secretariat; and Sr. Mary John Mananzan, Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines. –
source / contributed by Renato Pasayao