As Christendom celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), calls on the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to resume formal peace talks. May this season of hope inspire both parties to break down the dividing wall of hostility and engage in principled negotiations to end the decades-old armed conflict in the country.
The call for the resumption of the GPH and NDFP peace talks is one of the recent recommendations of Mr. Ola Almgren, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator. On 8 December, Mr. Almgren called for “a full and meaningful resumption of the peace process” between the government and the NDFP in the context of the human rights challenges of the Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao as one of the longer term actions to end the Lumad crisis. The PEPP also calls for a safe return of the Lumad to their communities especially in the light of the Christmas season.
As both the NDFP and GPH has already declared ceasefire from 23 December to 3 January 2016, we hope that both parties will respect and remain faithful to their declaration of ceasefire to ensure a peaceful holiday season.
We welcome the release of the prisoner of war (POW), Pfc. Jess Adonis Lupiba, by the New People’s Army (NPA) on 1 December. We hope that other POWs will also be released before the year ends. We call on the government to reciprocate this goodwill from the NDFP by also releasing political prisoners. The PEPP is especially concerned with the case of NDFP Consultant Eduardo Serrano, 62 years old, who was rushed to the hospital last 16 December due heart attack and that needs to undergo Angioplasty. We appeal to the good graces of Pres. Benigno Aquino III for humanitarian reasons, to order the release of Mr. Serrano.
May the blessing of the prince of peace who came into the world as a vulnerable child, remind us that our calling as Christians is to pursue peace both in our individual lives and in the life of the nation. This becomes compelling since it is the innocent and the vulnerable who continually fall victim to our ongoing civil conflicts.
Issued and signed this day of December 24, 2015.
ARCHBISHOP ANTONIO J. LEDESMA, S.J., D.D.
BISHOP NOEL A. PANTOJA
National President, PCEC
REV. FR. REX RB REYES,JR
General Secretary, NCCP
BISHOP EMERITUS DEOGRACIAS S.INIGUEZ, JR., D.D.