March 19, 2015
The call for the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is gaining strong support from grassroots organizations, people’s organizations and advocates in the Cordillera region. This was reaffirmed by at least 60 peace advocates and representatives of various organizations and sectors from the different provinces of the Cordillera, including members of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, who participated in the Cordillera Peace Conversation held on March 16-17, 2015 in Baguio City.
Sponsored by the Citizen’s Alliance for Just Peace, Sulong CARHRIHL, Pilgrims for Peace-Cordillera and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, the activity served as venue for the participants to discuss the updates on the stalled peace process and the people’s issues such as the worsening denial and violation of Cordillera indigenous peoples right to ancestral land and self-determination, and the violation of human rights of democratic sectors such as women, youth, workers, peasants and urban poor communities. As one of the major results of the consultation, the participants agreed to call for the GPH and the NDFP to resume peace talks the soonest possible time and consider the recommendations of this Cordillera Peace Conversation as well as past efforts of grassroots communities and organizations from past initiatives, such as the 2011 Lacub peace consultation as well as that in Sagada and Ifugao in 2012 and in Bokod in 2013.
The participants also called on the GPH and the NDFP to abide by the The Hague Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and work on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER), with indigenous people’s right to self-determination fully acknowledged and protected.
It was recalled that the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and Katribu Partylist hosted the first Joint Peace Consultation between the GPH and the NDFP during the celebration of the 27th Cordillera Day in Buneg, Lacub, Abra on April 2011. This was the first of its kind for both parties to conduct peace consultation with grassroots indigenous people’s organizations. During the said consultation, various sectors and organizations directly testified on their situations and recommendations before the two parties. The joint consultation came out with strong recommendations for both parties, including the following: a) For the people to support the peace negotiations between the GRP/GPH and NDFP, and actively engage both Parties to address the roots of the armed conflict, specifically the exploitation and oppression of IPs, for a just and lasting peace; and b) For both Parties to conduct continuing consultations and dialogues with IPs particularly at the grassroots level, and institute responsive mechanisms and reforms especially the GRP/GPH – being the Party in power. These recommendations are once again reaffirmed by the participants during the Cordillera Peace Conversation.
However, from 2011 up to the present, the peace talks have been stalled. On the other hand, civil war continues in the country. The conflicts in Philippine society are manifested through various aspects of people’s lives – political and security, economic and socio-cultural. The non-recognition and violation of the right to ancestral land and self-determination of the Cordillera indigenous peoples continues, especially with the imposition of so-called development plans and policies that are merely based on the want for profit and not on the needs of the people. Villages remain militarized resulting in numerous violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The worsening crisis in Philippine society all the more marks the need for the peace talks to resume immediately.
The CPA affirms the opening statement of Sr. Alice M. Sobrevinas, OSB, Member, Presidium for the GRP-‐NDFP Joint Consultation in Lacub, Abra 2011, which illustrates the peace we pursue, “In concrete, peace begins when the hungry are fed and when the thirst for justice is quenched. Genuine peace is only possible in a society where justice is nurtured by the dignity felt by every human being – free from poverty, cynicism, violations and other evils borne out by greed and the insatiable crave for power. Thus, peace is not solely a term and a concept. It is a process.”
We call on the peoples of the Cordillera and all Filipinos to partake in this work for a just and enduring peace which will only be realized when people link up arms and pursue this aspiration.***
Public Information Officer