Manila, Feb. 16 – Quezon City resounded with the call for sincerity and transparency in the ongoing peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Norway, as a civil society movement on Tuesday marched the busy Elliptical Road from Philcoa to QC Memorial Circle, armed with bells, gongs and banners.
Called the “Manindigan para sa Peace Talks” (Stand Up for Peace Talks), the civil society group is composed of peace advocates, non-government organizations, and people’s organizations, and was launched in time for the resumption of the GPH-NDF peace negotiations in Oslo. The negotiations is under the auspices of the Royal Norwegian Government, which has been acting as Third Party Facilitator since 2001.
“We’ve noticed in the past that the peace process doesn’t have much organized support from the civil society,” said Joeven Reyes, executive director of Sulong CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law), one of the groups that joined Manindigan. “This is why we are launching this movement. We want more voices to be heard, and we are united by our call for transparency in the peace talks.”
Sister Arnold Maria Noel, SSps seconded Reyes by saying that transparency should be of utmost importance in the resumption of the peace talks, especially since past negotiations have been burdened by setbacks because they were held without listening to the people’s voices.
“We believe that peace is our right and peace building is the responsibility of all. The resumption of the peace talks between the government and the NDF offers an opportunity to come to terms with the country’s best interests and work for peace that had eluded us for so long,” said Sr. Noel.
Also during the Quezon City march, the group introduced the Unity Manifesto which calls for the support of the following: sincere commitment to the peace talks; full implementation of CARHRIHL; bilateral ceasefire during the peace talks; transparency in the peace process; and people’s voice on substantial reform agenda.
Members of the group signed the manifesto and vowed to get more people to sign it in the near future.
“This is just the start for us. In the coming weeks and months, we will hold activities similar to this. We will educate people, especially students, on the importance of peace. We will urge more people to stand up for peace,” said Reyes.
Manindigan para sa Peace Talks is composed of various groups, including: the Indigenous People’s Network for Ancestral Domain and Peace; Teacher’s Dignity Coalition; Sulong CARHRIHL Network; Initiatives for International Dialogue – Manila and Davao; Protect CIAC; Sacred Heart Missionary – Davao; and the Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Kapuluan, among others. #