An observer to the peace process urged the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to resume the formal talks, saying that “peace must always be the choice.”
Charlito Manlupig, president of Balay Mindanaw, said that he can attest to “how much sweat and tears were poured to negotiate and agree on even a single line in a paragraph of a joint statement.”
“Always, at the end of the day, both parties stood their ground to choose to talk another day,” he said.
Manlupig was present during the past two rounds of the peace talks for Balay Mindanaw, a Cagayan de Oro-based NGO that promotes the peace process between the state and legitimate non-state armed groups.
Manlupig took note of the “major strides” of the peace talks, and said that “efforts must be exerted to protect the initial gains.” These gains include the agreement on the functioning of the Joint Monitoring Committee to monitor human rights violations, as well as the provision on agrarian reform in the proposed socio-economic reforms.
“No one should forget how much hope it (the peace talks) brought to the entire Filipino nation,” he said.
Balay Mindanaw also described the arrest order on NDFP consultants as a “big blow” to the peace process.
Manlupig said that while was he optimistic that a “more robust and comprehensive” bilateral ceasefire agreement would eventually be reached by both parties, “any measure that reduces occurrences of violence and save precious lives on a daily basis” is important.
The group also appealed to the Filipino people to be “knowledgeable with the whole decades-old peace processes in the country,” and to “echo the trumpets of peace and not the drums of war.”