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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Group calls for ‘broad unity’ of stakeholders in peace process

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The Political Officers League of the Philippines (POLPhil) has urged progressive mass organizations to come together and create a people’s agenda “for a truly genuine peace that will benefit everyone and the next generation.”

According to Noel Medina, POLPhil NCR Vice President, “we do not criticize the efforts of government officials and representatives of the National Democratic Front in the pursuit of opening peace talks. We want the broad population to participate in the peace talks as they are mainly affected by the armed conflict.”

“In numerous conflict situations, the conditions of deprivation of liberty remain precarious, if not disastrous. The civilian populace are the main ones who are affected, putting their lives in danger and their livelihoods are also disrupted,” Medina said.

During previous administrations, POLPhil said the peace talks between the GRP and the NDF extended the discussion about responsibility and justice, “so they both insist on their respective mechanisms to deal with their violations of laws so the peace agreement is not progressing.”

Former President Rodrigo Duterte prioritized the war on drugs, a campaign that resulted in the deaths of thousands of suspected pushers and users of illegal drugs, the group noted.p

‘Broad Unity of All Peace Stakeholders’

POLPhil said the peace process needs to bring together the greatest number of political forces, advocates, and organizations in a broad-based unity.

“The progressive forces that have been battling for decent living conditions for our countrymen for many years must take the initiative in promoting the notion of complete human dignity for all Filipinos. These stakeholders have to contribute to the realization of peace in order for the Philippines to leapfrog into a new future and a new narrative of inclusive national progress and peace,” it said.

As the driving force behind a broad coalition of former activists, military officers, and freedom fighters, POLphil is convinced that peace is long overdue and is currently working to further the nation’s development on many fronts.

“The greatest number of our Muslim brothers, as well as locals and inhabitants of the South, helped us bring about peace in Mindanao. The chance to advance national peace now presents itself once more,” the group said.

However, POLPhil acting National President Rudy “Kid” Cañeda noted that the broadest possible range of stakeholders “must be involved in any endeavor that seeks to bring about justice and peace.”

“Peace for All, Not for the Few”

“The peace process must discuss and address primarily the people’s agenda, addressing the roots of the conflict – poverty, powerlessness, justice, food security, jobs, opportunities for meaningful education and participation in government,” Cañeda further explained.

POLPhil Executive Director for Political Institute, Fortunato Agbayani, noted that to address threats to national security and heritage, the peace process “needs to acknowledge that the West Philippines Sea is ours.”

“To defeat treacherous elements within the nation who are bent on destroying the nation’s legacy, we must unite and act patriotically on this issue. Resources of the West Philippine Sea belong to our people, not to any foreign power,” Agbayani added.

The group feels there is no place for criticism or opposition to the administration’s initiatives, considering the social sector’s involvement in the pursuit of a meaningful peace agenda.

Resuming peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is something that President Marcos has been urged to rethink, Vice President Sara Duterte said, comparing the decision to “an agreement with the devil.”

POLPhil said it is scheduled to hold a press conference next week which will be attended by various political figures, former and current government officials, retired and active military, leaders of various political blocs that belong to progressive, moderate and conservative ranks and prominent peace advocates to build the broad unity of all peace stakeholders.

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