Inclusion of NDF peace consultants in list of 'terrorists' alarms church group

Inclusion of NDF peace consultants in list of 'terrorists' alarms church group

MANILA, Philippines — A group of church organizations expressed alarm over the inclusion of peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the Anti-Terrorism Council’s list of alleged terrorists.

In a statement, the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) said the terrorist-tagging of certain NDFP personalities will have “far-reaching and adverse repercussions” on the peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) “which the PEPP has faithfully supported and advocated for.”

The PEPP is a platform of five church institutions and groups which are supporting the peace process between the GRP-NDFP.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP), with organizations of Religious, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), and the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum (EBF) are members of PEPP.

“A peace that is not just silencing the voices of dissent and the incarceration and destruction of lives that are defined as terrorists,” they said. “But a peace that addresses the root causes of dissent and seeks resolution by negotiation.”

PEPP said Rey Claro Casambre of the Philippine Peace Center, is part of the GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations.

The group also said that they “wholeheartedly believe in the sincerity” of both the GRP and NDFP peace panels in their efforts to reach a negotiated peace settlement.

“However, we are saddened that the termination of the formal peace talks led to the imprisonment of Mr. Casambre and his co-consultants – who participated in the talks in good faith – while others like Randy Malayao and Randall Echanis were even killed,” they lamented.

The church leaders also noted that the breakdown of GRP-NDFP peace negotiations along with the implementation of Anti-Terrorism Law “have contributed significantly to an increase in human rights violations and the worsening climate of impunity in the country.”

The group also calls on the Filipino people to “steadfastly pray” and work for the resumption of the formal peace talks between NDFP and the government.

“It is our unwavering belief that principled dialogue across the negotiating table is still the most viable way, and less costly in terms of lives and resources, to attain a just and lasting peace,” they said.

“This call is based on our enduring faith in Jesus Christ, who is our love, our hope and our peace.”

“For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe,” the group said, citing Biblical verse 1 Timothy 4:10.