MANILA, April 6, 2017–Catholic bishops in southern Philippines hailed the government’s move to revive peace talks with the communist rebels.
Archbishop Martin Jumoad of Ozamis said there is no other way to achieve peace but through negotiation and dialogue.
Echoing soon to be saint Pope Paul VI’s social encyclical Populorum progressio, the prelate said that with peace there is development.
“When it is about peace it is always appreciated,” said Jumoad, who is also a member of CBCP’s’ permanent council.
For his part, Bishop Edwin dela Peña of war-torn Marawi said that the revival of peace negotiations is a step forward.
“Dialogue is the way to resolve our problems,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte on April 4 ordered the resumption of the stalled talks between his administration and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Peace Secretary Jesus Dureza said the directive include forging a “ceasefire agreement” to stop fighting while talks are underway.
Last week, suspected rebels torched construction heavy equipment in three different villages of Davao City, Duterte’s home town.
The insurgents ended its unilateral ceasefire in February 2017 and launched attacks on government forces after the Duterte administration failed to release all political prisoners.
This prompted the government to immediately terminate the peace talks with the rebels.
Jose Maria Sison, chief political consultant of the NDFP, welcomed the government’s move to return to the peace table but opposed “preconditions” on talks.