In an open letter to both the GPH and NDF panels, civil society network Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) today urged the government and the rebels to “go back to the peace table and resume the talks until a just political settlement is reached.”
“We see that the best timing to publicly call for the resumption of the peace talks is today, in time for the International Human Rights Day, as the human rights not just of combatants from both sides but also of civilians whose rights are severely violated and abused because of this conflict,” PMPI National Coordinator Yolanda Esguerra said.
Esguerra explained that the letter is a result of the network’s Peace Summit held last November 2015. PMPI has initially sent the said letter to the chairpersons of both panels and later decided to make its demands public to encourage response from both parties. Among the signatories of the letter are Sulong CARHRIHL, Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute, Balay Mindanaw, CBCP-NASSA, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, and PMPI partners across the Philippines.
The letter reads, “While acknowledging that conflict is part of a society’s dynamic, the network members reiterate the urgency to take actions that would prevent the conflict from becoming more violent and further wantonly affecting thousands of innocent civilians. The participants call on both parties to pursue the path of negotiation, to communicate openly and heed and regard principled compromises instead of resorting to violent confrontations and heightened offensives.”
In the letter, the groups also called for a ceasefire in time for the Christmas season. “In our perspective, this may be the best starting confidence-building measure for the two camps. They can also consider it as a gift to the affected communities as a ceasefire is a sure respite from the conflict, and a chance to address human rights violations and abuses,” Esguerra explained.
PMPI is a network of people’s organizations, NGOs, church groups, and Misereor, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany. It is the result of a series of consultations among organizations supported by Misereor which discussed a model of cooperation, coordination, and partnership.