Statement of the
2nd Ecumenical Church Leaders’ Summit on the GPH-NDFP Peace Negotiations
Betania Retreat House, Lahug, Cebu City
February 6-8, 2012
“This is what Yahweh asks of you, only this: that you act justly, that you love tenderly, that you walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
We are Church leaders from five major religious federations*. We came together to reflect and discuss the peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). We listened to updates from both sides regarding the current status of the negotiations. There are positive prospects that bolster our hopes for the talks to continue but there are certain issues brought out that may hinder the process of the said talks.
One such issue, which is at the crux of the recent impasse, concerns the detained consultants of the NDFP that they claim are covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). The NDFP called for a postponement of the talks last June 2011 to give time for the GPH to release the consultants. While the GPH already released some consultants, the NDFP is demanding that the GPH honor the February 21, 2011 Joint Statement by releasing most if not all consultants covered by the JASIG. The GPH recently stated that until the reciprocal working committees on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) shall have completed the common tentative agreement on social and economic reforms, the talks may not resume. They also stated that there will be no formal talks on issues concerning the JASIG. This in turn was seen by the NDFP as a move to scuttle the negotiations. We deeply understand the concerns of both parties.
To affirm our commitment in support of the formal peace talks and to break the current impasse, we call on the government to release in recognizance under the collective custodial guarantee of the member churches of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, the NDFP consultants who are willing to be under the sanctuary of churches. This is our way of proclaiming the gospel of peace. We call on the GPH and the NDFP to consider this offer. As Church people, we recognize that the road to a just and lasting peace is complex. But we persevere because we are certain that nothing is impossible with God and especially if we take the interests of the people at heart. We believe that there are times when we need to dare and innovate, seize the Kairos moment, so that the formal talks may continue.
We pray that this offer from us will pave the way for both parties to continue to work on the mutually agreed principles or framework upon which the peace negotiations are built. We are earnestly looking forward to the next substantive agenda, the CASER, so that the fundamental issues that bring about unpeace will be addressed.
We affirm our prophetic voices for peace and take to heart our people’s longing for the elusive peace that will create the conditions for an equitable and sustainable development of our country and people.
We fervently ask you all to join us in prayers and solidarity in this quest for a future worthy of our children.
February 8, 2012
*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), Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) and the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum (EBF).
For the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform:
Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, DD Ms. Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremdes
Co-chairperson, PEPP Co-chairperson, PEPP
Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., DD
Head, PEPP Secretariat
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