NPO to Duterte: Lift Martial Law, Continue Peace Talks, Release Political Prisoners

Known for flip-flopping decisions over the government’s commitment to pursue the peace talks, President Duterte recently said he will sign a written termination of the talks between the Philippine government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Such action is far from the president’s earlier pronouncement that he wants to attain peace in this long besieged land. Terminating the talks may lead to greater unrest – with the roots of armed conflict barely addressed and far from being resolved.

The president is also set to meet more dissent. With the unpropitious overwhelming vote that extended the martial law rule, the Philippine government has virtually turned a blind eye to the suffering of the people – as if they have not suffered long and hard enough even before the ongoing crisis in Marawi struck.

Reports of interrogation and torture of displaced Maranao people were all relegated and shunned. The destruction of their homes and livelihoods are only deemed casualties to this senseless violence.

A just and lasting peace may only be attained in this country if its government is sincerely willing to extend a hand in addressing the agrarian unrest and lack of opportunities for majority of the people. Aggravating the situation of unpeace is the harassment and intimidation of peace advocates and activists resulting to an increase in human rights violations by state security forces.

The continuing illegal arrest and unlawful detention of Bishop Morales and Mr. Salinas presents an obstruction to the peace talks and a violation of government’s commitment to human rights and humanitarian laws. The government must refrain from harassing church people and progressive organizations supporting the peace process.

Thus we strongly challenge President Duterte to shun away from his militarist options and pursue the peace negotiations and address the roots of the armed conflict.

Free Bishop Carlo Morales!
Free NDFP Consultant Rommel Salinas!
Free all Political Prisoners!
Resume the GRP-NDFP Peace Talks!
Lift Martial Law!

Revd Fr. Jonash Joyohoy
Governor General
National Priests Organization
Iglesia Filipina Independiente
August 3, 2017