THE MESSAGE OF THE OBISPO MAXIMO ON THE ANNOUNCED INTENTION OF THE GOVERNMENT TO RESUME PEACE TALKS

IN THE NAME OF THE RISEN LORD WHO GREETS US PEACE, LET THE PEACE TALKS BE RESUMED AND THE PEACE PROCESS ACHIEVES ITS PURPOSE

 

I join with the voices coming from many quarters of this nation to laud and welcome the announced intention of President Rodrigo Duterte to resume the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines [GRP] and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), with the aim to finally end the long-running armed conflict besetting the Philippines and its people and to definitely resolve the roots of the basic Philippine society’s problems that spawned the armed conflict.

I thank the members of the Peace Panels of both the GRP and the NDFP for their continuing commitment to come and sit around the negotiating table despite the many obstacles that hindered the peace process. I hope that in the possibility of forthcoming new and fresh rounds of peace talks, both Peace Panels will strive to work hard and not to be deterred by anything else that will cause the peace process to run aground again.

The announced intention has thrown a new light to which the hope for the peace talks shines anew. Termination of the peace talks cannot be the way to solve the long-running armed conflict in the land; the resumption of the peace talks is. The continuing peace talks will thus provide the parties involved in this armed conflict to sit down and together look for the way that same, both parties – by virtue of their commonly accepted and signed agreements – can work together and bring about the genuine change that our people and nation have been hoping for a long time.

The four series of peace talks undertaken since 2016 had gone a long extent and accomplished more than the previous peace talks under past governments could accomplish in terms of leading the whole peace process towards its end goal. The termination of the peace talks however stalled this momentum and aborted the possibility of the signing of subsequent comprehensive agreements as determined by the agenda embodied in Hague Agreement.

As reported in the press, the termination of the peace talks sidelined the draft of the Comprehensive Agreements on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) and the formalization of the start of the drafting of the Comprehensive Agreements on Political and Constitutional Reforms and on the Cessation of Hostilities and Deposition of Forces. The Peace Panels of both GRP and NDFP were on the verge of coming to terms on certain issues that could mutually bring them to common agreements for the interest of our people and nation, like that of national industrialization, genuine agrarian reforms. The prospects then for a negotiated, just and lasting peace was almost upon reach.

Really, the announced intention of President Duterte provides fresh hope and new opportunities for these peace talks to prosper. By this, I join with other voices to resonate the call

(1) for the Duterte government to be sincere with its efforts to pursue peace in our land;

(2) for the members of both Peace Panels to sit together and to have the interest and welfare of the Filipino people in their minds and in their hearts;

(3) for both parties to provide conducive atmosphere and build goodwill, trust and confidence as pretext of the continuing peace talks; and

(4) for both parties to refrain from imposing conditions to dictate and define the pace and mode of the peace talks but instead to implement with all seriousness the spirit and intent of previous agreements that bound them both to strictly observe in order to bring the whole peace process closer to its desired goal.

I join with other sectors of our society in calling upon the Filipino people to support and rally behind the resumption of the peace talks. There is a need for us all – as stakeholders – to own the peace talks and claim the peace process as our resort towards just and lasting peace in our land. Let us all push the parties and their respective Peace Panels to immediately and formally return to the negotiating table and pursue consistently the earlier adopted substantive agenda.

I ask the clergy and faithful of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente to put a premium value on advocating and supporting the peace talks. Earlier, I called upon the whole church, as implied in the theme of our Proclamation Anniversary last year, to make every effort to do what leads to peace” [Romans 14::19 NIV]. Seeking peace is central to our calling; pursuing peace, that which is just and lasting, is simply not just an option for us as a church, but is our basic and fundamental work. Peace is our imperative in being, doing and becoming a church, in consonance to the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus who is the prince of peace and who greets everyone peace in his post-resurrection appearances.

I ask every IFI clergy and member to pray for the resumption of the peace talks, to pray for its success and for the enlightenment and good hearts of all those who are involved in the negotiation, and to pray for the abiding, sustaining and inspiring presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit in all times of these tedious process of attaining national peace. I urge church members to join in the various campaigns and mobilizations to support the peace talks, to overcome all obstacles, and to make every effort to do what leads to peace.

I pray too that we all may be touched and moved, as the Lord Jesus comes into the midst of our fears and doubts that kept us enclosed, with his greetings that resonates today: “Peace be with you!”

 

 

+ RHEE 
Obispo Maximo

Second Sunday of Easter, 2018

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