Hoping that international pressure would bring the GPH-NDFP talks back on track, peace advocates and rights defenders at the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (ICHRPP) called on the Aquino government to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front, citing poverty and the re-escalation of human rights abuses as the most compelling reasons to go back to the negotiating table
“The landlessness of peasants, the lack of decent wages and job opportunities, decent housing and basic social services are weighing down on the lives of the Filipino people and violate their socio-economic rights. Those who resist and work for change are met with political repression by the State. We want the peace negotiations resumed to help resolve such issues,” the delegates said in a press conference.
The ICHRPP added its voice to the call by local peace advocates for the resumption of the stalled talks on the basis of previously signed agreements, specifically the 1992 Hague Joint Declaration, the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
“We lament the fact that the Aquino government has practically terminated the talks by ignoring or violating the 10 or so agreements previously signed by the GPH and NDFP. Aquino’s so-called ‘new approach’ of localized talks combined with counterinsurgency operations disregards and undermines all previous agreements, making the talks impossible,” said ICHRPP Spokesperson Teddy Casino.
“The ICHRPP plans to focus international attention on the talks and compel both sides to go back to the negotiating table. International pressure worked in the past on the issue of human rights. We hope it works this time for the sake of peace,” said Casino.
Earlier this month, eight peace groups – the Sulong CARHRIHL, Pilgrims for Peace, Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP),Waging Peace Philippines, Generation Peace Youth Network, Women Engaged in Action 1325, Initiatives for International Dialogue, and Philippine Peace Center – issued a joint statement demanding a resumption of the talks, saying, “Time is of the essence. End the prolonged impasse. Resume the talks, now.”
The ICHRPP is now on its second day. Conference delegates today are expected to tackle the issue on the struggle for a just and lasting peace. Speakers will share experiences on the search for peace in South Africa, the middle East and the Philippines.
The more than 250 peace and human rights advocates are also expected to join the people’s mobilization during the State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 22. ###