The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) is deeply saddened by the pronouncement of newly appointed Secretary for the Department of National Defense, Gilbert Teodoro, that under his leadership, there will be no peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA). Prospects to resolve the decades-old armed conflict through a negotiated peace agreement seem to get dimmer each day under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
Sec. Teodoro’s pronouncement is consistent with that of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). Which is basically for the defeat or surrender of the other party, without addressing the reasons or root causes of why the CPP-NPA is engaged in an armed conflict with the government.
Sec. Teodoro should remember that during his stint in the DND under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the heightened counter-insurgency campaign just brought about more violations of human rights (HR) and international humanitarian law (IHL). The Arroyo administration was then heavily criticized nationally and internationally for its human rights record, even at the level of the United Nations. More than a decade has passed since then and a just and enduring peace is still as elusive as ever.
As church leaders, we are consistent in our belief that an all-out-war policy will not resolve the decades-old armed conflict and it will be more costly in terms of the loss of lives and the budget for war materiel. The investment of huge resources and personnel will be better spent on poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Principled dialogue with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, which represent the CPP/NPA in peace negotiations, is needed to fully address roots of the armed conflict in the country, which include poverty, landlessness, inaccessibility to services and inequitable distribution of resources.
We also do not support the so-called localized peace talks because negotiations should be at the national level. Such a complex problem demands a comprehensive and systemic response.
We thus reiterate our appeal to the administration of Pres. Marcos, Jr. to reconstitute the GRP Peace Panel and resume the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, respecting the work and upholding the agreements that have been entered into by past leaderships.
As church leaders we affirm that God values peace and acts in ways that contribute to peace instead of chaos and violence, as St. Paul wrote: “…God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people” (1 Corinthians 14:33).
Issued and signed on this day, 9th of June 2023.
Archbishop Emeritus Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, DD
Cagayan De Oro City
The Rt. Revd. Rex B. Reyes, Jr.
Ecumenical Bishops Forum
Rev. Dr. Aldrin Penamora
Peace and Reconciliation Commission (PARC-PCEC)
Ms. Minnie Anne M. Calub
Acting General Secretary
National Council of Churches in the Philippines
Sr. Mary John D. Mananzan, OSB
Office of the Women Gender Commission
Conference of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (CMSP)
Bishop Emeritus Deogracias S. Iniguez, Jr., DD
PEPP Head of the Secretariat