Dear friends,

I would like to share with you the recent statement of APCCHRP re Duterte government’s unilateral cancellation of peace negotiation.

Please circulate to your network.

Thank you very much.

In solidarity,

Joram

apologies for cross posting

STOP THE ALL OUT WAR: Create an enabling environment for peace talks
A statement of concern from Asia Pacific Coordinating Committee for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (APCCHRPP)

The APCHRP expresses concern in the recent development of the peace negotiations in the Philippines between the GRP and the NDFP. As a regional human rights group supporting the struggle of Filipino people for just and lasting peace, the organization put into question the sincerity of the Duterte government’s efforts in achieving just and lasting peace after his recent unilateral cancellation of peace negotiations.

There are recent reports in the mainstream media in the Philippines indicating that the postponement was due to the influence and force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to continue with the armed offensive amidst the effort of the negotiating panels to create an enabling environment to start the Third Round of talks on June 28.

The Duterte government and warmongers in the AFP instead of paving the way in addressing the root causes of the armed conflict unleashed a total war policy that ambitiously seeking to finish the revolutionary forces by the end of 2018. Through its Oplan Kapayapaan the AFP is targeting civilian population whom they suspect as NPA sympathizers and members, wrecking havoc to the lives and livelihood of Filipino people. Especially among the indigenous people and peasants in many rural communities actively protecting their rights to ancestral domain against the encroachment of big plantations and mining companies and destruction of environment.

Just recently, there are almost 100 soldiers from 29thIBPA encamped in the villages of lumad communities in Sitio Zapanta Valley, Brgy. Bangayan, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte. Villagers have been subjected to numerous threats, harassment and staged the fake surrender of an ailing Manobo leader. Subsequently, forced more than 122 Mamanwa peasant families (or 542 individuals, including the elderly, pregnant women and those with infants and children) to evacuate to a nearby barangay, after they were restricted from going to their farms and from bringing food to their community.

Meanwhile, leaders of progressive organizations of farmers and indigenous people in Mindanao and in other rural communities in the country who resisted the massive military operations, human rights violations, threats and harassment against people in the communities are accused of being members of NPA and became victims of extra-judicial killings and state of impunity in the country.

Worse, the lumad schools that the Duterte government threatened to bomb last year are now threaten to be closed by the AFP. Depriving lumad children their right to education. Six teachers from Lumad school Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao Sur (TRIFPPS) were illegally arrested and interrogated by soldiers from the 36th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA) in Brgy. Hayon, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. Its volunteer teachers and community members have been receiving continuous threats since last school year.

Just and lasting peace is the Filipino people’s utmost desire. The Duterte government should, first and foremost trust the wisdom of his negotiating panel in order to create an enabling environment for peace talks. Based on the back channel documents released by the NDF negotiating panel, both parties are ready to have a stand down agreement. The stand down shall be understood to mean temporary cessation of hostilities in which the contending armed units and personnel of the Parties stay where there are (as is where is), take an active defense mode, and shall not commit any offensive action or operation against combatants and civilians. It shall be subject to the provisions of previously signed agreement particularly the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws (CARHRIHL), especially the protection of civilian population and their property.

Despite the long and narrow road for just and lasting peace, the stumbling blocks that peace haters create as Duterte government’s plan to remove Norway as Third Party facilitator and hold the negotiation in the country that could eventually lead to the collapse of peace talks. The APCCHRP together with the Filipino people never lose hope. For we understand that achieving just and lasting peace relies on the collective and relentless struggle of Filipino people. For as long as there are sectors of Filipino society who hear the cries of the poor, the groaning for justice of victims and their relatives and the urgency to create a truly just, humane and democratic society, the Filipino people will always find ways to just and lasting peace. ###


____________________
Rev. Joram H. Calimutan
Faith Partnership and Solidarity
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants
No. 2 Jordan road, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong
Telephone number: +852-2723-7536

Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute.[a] Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31: 8-9)