By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Padi Rex Reyes, secretary general of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) called on everyone, especially church people not to lose hope and instead push for the continuation of the Peace Talks as President Rodrigo Duterte unilaterally dismisses the Peace Talks.
Reyes addressed church people, human rights defenders and development workers during a peace forum spearheaded by the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) at the multipurpose hall of the Cathedral of the Ressurection along Magsaysay Avenue in Baguio City on December 1.
Reyes found hope in the President’s speech for the celebration of Andres Bonifacio Day last November 30 where the President called on the people to continue Bonifacio’s unfinished revolution. He said that the mere fact that the President recognizes that there is an unfinished revolution should bring peace advocates much hope. He added that in the more than one year of the Duterte administration, there had already been four rounds of talks, which did not happen during any other term.
“We all know our President is onion skinned and curses a lot but notwithstanding his personality, we should remain focused on our role in peace building,” Reyes said.
It can be recalled that the government (GRP) has unilaterally dismissed its peace negotatiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Reyes, who is also an independent observer to the Peace process said the cancellation of the peace talks happened when both panels were talking about socio-economic reforms, which will actually address the root causes of the decades long civil war in the country. He said that both panels have worked so hard for their drafts, they have conducted seminars, contacted reliable resource persons to come up with their own drafts for a comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reforms.
Reyes also said that both panels have even agreed to pursue genuine land reform, to give land to landless tillers and have even talked about how to go about national industrialization.
“Let us not put the efforts and hardwork of the panels to waste, we should help push for the continuation of the peace talks until a resolution is reached,” he said.
Reyes reiterated that the Church’s role in peace building is beyond political, activism or ideology but rather spiritual. He stressed that the mandate of the Church to pursue peace comes from the Prince Of Peace himself, Jesus Christ.
He said that church people who advocate just peace, human rights and the like are branded as activists when in reality they are just following the Lord’s commandments.
“When we say stop the killings it goes back to the old testament, the ten commandments that says Thou shall not kill, we are against plunder because the Lord said Thou shall not steal, “ Reyes said.
It can be recalled that in a briefing material of the Armed Forces of the Philippine’s (AFP) called Knowing your enemy, Churches and church organizations that include the United Church of Chist of the Philippines (UCCP), NCCP and the Catholic Bichops Conference of the Philippines are listed as among those influenced by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The AFP listed the CPP as an enemy of the state along with legitimate democratic organizations they suspect as CPP front organizations.
Earlier news reports showed that bishops, priests, lay leaders and church workers have also fallen victims to extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests and detention, victims of trumped up charges.
In the face of human rights violations against church people, Reyes said that the church should all the more pursue Peace. “Our continued calls for the continuation of Peace Talks hinges not just on our survival but the survival of the future generation,” he said.# nordis.net