MAY 14, 2011
Pilgrims for Peace holds National Assembly on GPH-NDFP Peace Talks
Presenting concrete proposals on economic and social reforms to address the roots of the armed conflict, representatives of various sectors expressed their full support for the peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) at the Pilgrims for Peace 2nd National Assembly held today, May 13, at the St. Scholastica’s College in Manila.
Pilgrims for Peace is an organization of advocates for a just and lasting peace based on freedom, democracy and social justice.
The need to implement genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization programs to achieve a just and lasting peace has been underscored by the various sectors during their presentations. Sectors represented include workers, farmers, OFWs, women, indigenous people, youth, and urban poor, among others.
The members of the two respective panels laid down their positions on the peace negotiations and gave updates on developments in the peace negotiations which aim to forge a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). GPH peace panelist Ednar Dayanghirang and his counterpart from the NDFP Rafael Baylosis shared with the audience the two panels’ respective proposals regarding the CASER.
Pilgrims for Peace Co-chairperson Rev. Rex Reyes said that the gathering was a success judging from the turnout and the questions the audience raised during the open forum. Some 300 individuals from various churches, non-government organizations, human rights groups, people’s organizations, and other sectoral formations attended the gathering.
Rev. Reyes said that the basic sectors of society represented by the various people’s organizations and grassroots formations are fully supportive of the ongoing peace negotiations between the GPH and the NDFP. Representatives from the sectors of labor, farmers, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk, women and urban poor brought proposals for both the GPH and the NDFP to consider and include in the discussions on the socio-economic reforms and plans to come up with a substantive agreement.
“It’s clear that the Filipino people want peace and that they are prepared to support all efforts t that will lead towards that end. Filipinos appeal to both the GPH and the NDFP to continue the peace negotiations and to persist until they come up an agreement on socio-economic reforms that will uphold, protect and promote the collective and individual human rights of the people, and support their mans of livelihood, raise their standard of living and make social services available to them to improve the quality of their lives,” Reyes said.
“We are ever desirous of peace based on justice, and Pilgrims for Peace will continue sponsoring activities such as this assembly to reach the greatest number of Filipinos and encourage them to monitor the developments in the peace negotiations. It’s important for all Filipinos to see that the Talks concern all of us, and that the developments in the negotiations directly affect our country and its immediate future,” he said.
One of the important points raised during the forum was the two panels’ identification and determination of the roots of the armed conflict in the country. The GPH has previously said that the worsening environmental problems and natural disasters were the main causes fueling armed conflict, but Mr. Dayanghirang said that the GPH now considers these only among many other causes. Mr. Baylosis said in the meantime said that widespread poverty and structural inequity in the country’s industrial and agricultural development are at the core of the conflict.
“It’s important that both sides come to terms with the country’s problems and together come up with solutions to them. There is no doubt that majority of our brothers and sisters live in deep poverty — for instance, workers receive starvation wages, farmers are denied their right to own the land they till and the rest of the poor and working sectors do not have access to much needed social services including health, housing and education. The GPH and the NDFP should work firmly together to come up with an agreement that will address these issues,” Rev. Reyes said.
Reference: REV. REX RB REYES JR.