DND chief’s stand against peace talks dismays faith leaders

June 14, 2023 - 11:47 AM
Peace talk advocates
Photo from the website of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (Photo from nccphilippines.org)

An ecumenical organization of church leaders said it was “deeply saddened” by the remarks of Defense Chief Gilbert Teodoro Jr. against resuming peace talks with communist rebels.

The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) stated that Teodoro’s stance only showed a “dimmer” chance of resolving the decades-old armed conflict.

“As church leaders, we are consistent in our belief that an all-out-war policy will not resolve the decades-old armed conflict,” the PEPP said in a statement.

The group expressed concern about the continuing armed battle, stating that “it will be more costly in terms of the loss of lives and the budget for war materiel.”

“The investment of significant resources and personnel would be better spent on poverty alleviation and sustainable development,” the PEPP said.

“As church leaders, we affirm that God values peace and acts in ways that contribute to peace instead of chaos and violence,” it added.

Teodoro recently rejected the possibility of peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.

Stating that such a move was a “subversion of the democratic process,” he insisted that the government allows rebels to reintegrate into society and surrender their arms.

Teodoro also mentioned that he would seek President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s advice on the stalled peace talks.

The PEPP reiterated its appeal to the Marcos administration to resume peace negotiations “respecting the work and upholding the agreements that have been entered into by past leaderships”.

“Principled dialogue” with the NDFP, it stressed, “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.”