The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), the largest ecumenical formation of church leaders in the country, said, “It’s very important that stakeholders on the ground be well-informed of what’s been happening in the peace talks. It’s good [to keep the people in communities] in the loop so that when the time comes for them to decide, the government will not find it hard to convince them since they were not taken for granted.”
PEPP offered to conduct information and education campaigns in communities, and have already conducted a regional peace-building workshop in Northern Mindanao.
CHURCH leaders in Cagayan de Oro are calling on the government and National Democratic Front (NDF) panelists to be more “inclusive” in their approach in the ongoing peace negotiation.
The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), the largest ecumenical formation of church leaders in the country, said representatives from both parties must keep the people in the communities affected by the negotiations be updated on the latest agreements reached by the negotiators.
The PEPP is made up of members from various sectarian organizations in the country, such as the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines, Ecumenical Bishop’s Forum, National Council of Churches and the Philippine Conference of Evangelical Churches.
The PEPP in Northern Mindanao has been on the frontlines helping the government and the Communist rebels in reaching an agreement that caused the release of army personnel and police officers captured by the New People’s Army in the past years.
“It’s very important that the stakeholders on the ground be well informed of what’s been happening in the peace talks,” Fr. Christopher Ablon, PEPP Mindanao Coordinator, said in a telephone interview.
Since one of the agenda being tackled by the government and NDF representatives is on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-economic Reforms, Ablon said keeping the communities abreast in the peace talks will also be one of the achievements of the panelists from both sides.
“It’s good that they (people in communities) be kept in the loop so that when the time comes for them to decide, the government will not find it hard to convince them since they were not taken for granted,” Ablon said.
“Their voice must also be heard during the discussions,” Ablon added.
Ablon said it is the responsibility of the government and the NDF to involve the members of the community and how they can help in the peace dialogues so they can take an active role in the whole process.
He said the PEPP is willing to lend a helping hand by conducting information and education campaign in communities.
In fact, Ablon said, the PEPP-Northern Mindanao is conducting the regional peace-building workshop here attended by some 40 religious leaders from the region on October 25-26.
The two-day activity will mainly tackle the recent development on the framework of socio-economic reforms, the meat of the peace negotiations as highlights of the second round of talks in Oslo, Norway last October 6 to 10.
In attendance to give their input were lawyer Efren Moncupa, legal counsel of the government panel Loida Magpatoc, NDFP working group member on SER, as well as Alfredo Mapano and Pedro Codaste, NDF consultants.