Tag: gph-ndfp peace talks

May 26 2013

THE ART OF TRANSCENDING OUR OWN CYCLE OF VIOLENCE

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National leaders of civil societies advocating for peace listen to Rey Casambre, an NDF consultant, as he shares his views on the current impasse in the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front (NDF). The CSO leaders are seeking new ideas on how they can help GPH and NDF reach a negotiated political settlement and eventually end this longest ongoing revolutionary war in the world. 25 May 2013, Quezon City.

How do we transcend the cycles of violence that bewitch our human community while still living in them?

This is the basic question in John Paul Lederach’s book, The Moral Imagination (2005).  Moral refers to our mind’s capacity to create—to think, to reflect, and to act.  Imagination refers to our capacity to generate constructive processes that are rooted in the day-to-day challenges of conflict and violence, transcending destructive patterns, and to create, as in aesthetic conception, a previously non-existent reality.

Moral Imagination is “the capacity to imagine something rooted in the challenges of the real world yet capable of giving birth to that which does not yet exist. In reference to peacebuilding, this is the capacity to imagine and generate constructive responses and initiatives that, while rooted in the day-to-day challenges of violence, transcend and ultimately break the grips of those destructive patterns and cycles.”

 

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I had the privilege of joining a group of peace advocates who met with Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. We listened to her perspectives on the current state of peace processes in the Philippines.

We need this Moral Imagination at this point when the peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is again in an impasse.  PBCI sent Tala Bautista to a consultation regarding this issue.  She reports:

On 03 April, the Peace Panel of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) who is negotiating with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) held a forum in Davao City to “search for new approaches” as the talks reached again a dead end.  In the previous months, both the GPH and NDFP were optimistic in reaching an agreement on a special track (ST) which is different from the formal peace negotiations.  However, this ST did not work out.  Both the GPH and the NDFP are blaming each other for the “stymied” special track.  Now, the GPH is holding consultations with other stakeholders nationwide supposedly to generate input for new approaches which seeks to address “concerns both on the peace table and on the ground, especially among the communities most affected by the conflict,” as expressed from a statement of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process. 

The NDFP is not in favor of this move and its armed wing promised more offensives in the countryside.

Please join us in praying for the Shalom of Christ in our country.

I have seen such turning points and possibilities from the experience of people and communities who have been struggling with the reality of violence in small, but critical, areas in Mindanao and in other armed-conflicted villages in the Philippines.  In those areas, violence seems to have been regarded as the ‘norm’ for dealing with conflict.  Yet, from their immersion in the challenges of a violent reality, a number of people and communities have ventured down on unknown paths and have created or discovered a new reality that was previously non-existent.  These newly discovered or created realities transcend the abnormal reality of violence that has been previously regarded as the norm.

Transcending violence is forged by the capacity to generate, mobilize, and build moral imagination.  To rise above violence, Lederach suggests four disciplines that must be mobilized:

  • the capacity to imagine ourselves in a web of relationships that includes our enemies;
  • the ability to sustain a paradoxical curiosity that embraces complexity without reliance on dualistic polarity;
  • the fundamental belief in and pursuit of the creative act; and,
  • the acceptance of the inherent risk of stepping into the mystery of the unknown that lies beyond the far too familiar landscape of violence.

May the GPH and the NDFP negotiators, along with all the stakeholders in the search for peace in this land, be enlightened with a Moral Imagination and transcend our own national cycle of violence.

 

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I was with USec Alex Padilla (Chair, GPH Panel Negotiating with the NDF) and USec Miriam Coronel Ferrer (Chair, GPH Panel Negotiating with MILF), listening to their respective views on the peace processes in the Philippines during an informal dinner meeting in Quezon City last May 24, 2013. I’m praying for the embrace of Moral Imagination to all the parties involved–GPH, NDFP, CSOs–in the peace processes in our beautiful land. May we all reach out to those we fear; touch the heart of complexity; imagine beyond what is seen; and, risk vulnerability one step at a time.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2013/05/26/the-art-of-transcending-our-own-cycle-of-violence/

May 08 2013

GOD’S BLESSINGS ARE USUALLY WRAPPED IN LIFE’S CHALLENGES

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I’m excited!

God’s new set of blessings are indeed wrapped in various degrees of challenges and seeming disappointments. And God is gracious and merciful! The gifts are being unwrapped before my amazed eyes from fear to courage, from sorrows to joy, from want to abundance, from crises to celebration!

  • I was fearful because my field worker, who was serving one of the poorest communities among the Typhoon Pablo devastated areas, was ‘red-tagged’ by an army lieutenant. The army general of the whole division, along with his colonels, came from their headquarters (about two hours drive) to Davao City to listen to my staff and to assure us that they welcome what we’re doing in those critical areas. Early this week, we got confirmation that the general and his staff would talk with us again. We feel encouraged that our non-partisan and active non-violent approach to peacebuilding would continue.
  • I was sad that some powerful and corrupt local government officials seem to be jeopardizing our dream of helping a tribal village. But my team and I are now encouraged that a representative of a national agency affirmed their support to Joji’s vision. Yesterday, the senior officials of this national agency accompanied Joji and our field operations leader to the site of the project to continue building the structures based on our vision. Last night, they reported what we felt God is actually doing through honest government officials. We ended the day with so much joy in our hearts!
  • Every payday, Joji and I are prompted to pray for funds. Our staff members have to pay their bills and some of them have families to feed. We also have to maintain our peacebuilding operations based on Joji’s financial philosophy: Low cost, high impact. This morning, I got notifications that our partners have deposited some funds in PBCI bank account just in time to continue our operations for this quarter. For us, this is abundance!
  • Along with some of my fellow peacebuilders from various civil society organizations, I feel our nation is facing a crisis due to the breakdown of the talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front (NDF). Jose Maria Sison, NDF’s chief consultant, already warned of increased attacks from their armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA). I still hope, by faith, that there will be a peaceful resolution to this protracted political and military conflict between the GPH and the NDF. With many people praying, with many people working together for peace, with God’s grace and mercy on our land, I envision the day when we are celebrating peace and reconciliation between the GPH and the NDF. I envision the day when the so-called left wing of our land, and the right wing of our land, will both realize that they are needed as two wings of the same dove of peace! What a celebration that would be!

Life is really great!

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2013/05/08/gods-blessings-are-usually-wrapped-in-lifes-challenges/

Jun 10 2011

TO THE GOVERNMENT AND COMMUNIST REVOLUTIONARIES: GO BACK TO THE NEGOTIATING TABLE

Teresita Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, GPH; Luis Jalandoni, Peace Panel Chairman, NDFP

We were dancing! We were celebrating the fact that last February 15-21, 2011, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) resumed their peace talks.

But last June 02, 2011,  Luis Jalandoni, Peace Panel Chairman of NDFP, proposed the postponement of their talks with GPH. The said talks is scheduled this month. Jalandoni communicated this in a letter addressed to GPH Peace Panel Chairman Alexander Padilla.

Jalandoni wants Padilla to free two political prisoners who are also consultants of the NDFP — Allan Jazmines and Tirso Alcantara.  The NDFP claims these two persons to be covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

GPH said that the NDFP should not use the formal talks to secure the release of Jazmines and Alcantara. This GPH position was communicated through the Department of National Defense.

Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, said:

I would like to refer to the statements made in January of this year, of government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla, after the preliminary negotiations between the government and the NDFP. I quote negotiator Padilla, who said in his statement that “the government agreed to work, on best effort basis, for the release of NDFP consultants and personalities who are qualified under the JASIG so they may meaningfully participate in the negotiations.”

“The resumption of the formal negotiations with the NDFP will focus on the remaining substantive agenda on: socio-economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities and disposition of forces. To avoid unwarranted disruptions of the negotiations, the Parties also established sidetable mechanisms to review and address procedural and non-substantive issues such as JASIG implementation, the release of alleged political prisoners (APOs), and confidence-building and goodwill measures.”

In line with this, the Government reiterates its sincerity and commitment to this process. In fact, in February of this year, before the start of the formal talks in Oslo, Norway, we facilitated provision of travel documents for NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Socio Economic Reform (RWC-SER) members Rafael Baylosis and Randall Echanis.

From the WebSite of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

In response, Fidel V. Agcaoili, spokesperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, said:

Ms. Teresita (Ging) Quinto-Deles, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process of the Government of the Philippines (GPH, formerly designated as the GRP), is mistaken in claiming that the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) is a mere side-table issue in the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations.

Ms. Ging Deles should be reminded that the primary purposes of the JASIG are “to facilitate the peace negotiations, create a favorable atmosphere conducive to free discussion and movement during the peace negotiations, and avert any incident that may jeopardize the peace negotiations.”

The JASIG is a very important agreement in the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations. It is what enables the Parties to directly engage in peace negotiations by providing safety and immunity guarantees to their respective negotiators, consultants, staffers, security and other personnel who participate in the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations. It actually tests the sincerity and commitment of the Parties to the peace negotiations.

As stipulated in the Joint Communique signed by the Parties and witnessed by Ambassador Ture Lundh of the Royal Norwegian Government on 18 January 2011 in Oslo: “The GPH Panel agreed to work for the expeditious release of detained NDFP consultants and other JASIG protected persons in compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and in the spirit of goodwill.”

The NDFP proposal to defer the talks of the Reciprocal Working Committees on Social and Economic Reforms (RWCs SER) and the Working Groups on Political and Constitutional Reforms (WGs PCR) scheduled in Oslo this month is meant to allow the GPH to comply with the JASIG.

From the WebSite of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines

 

As a concerned peace-building fieldworker, our hearts resonate with the statement of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform:

As a church-based peace advocate, we urge the two parties to remain focused on seeing the peace process through. We stand by our previous call that the two parties honor the previously signed agreements like The Hague Joint Declaration and all other bilateral agreements.

Specifically, we urge both parties to honor the terms of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) agreed upon in March 16, 1998 and in so far as practical measures in pursuit of this concern have been reiterated in the Oslo Joint Statement dated 21 February 2011.

We call on the two parties to follow the spirit of the JASIG as it is a crucial issue around the formal peace talks. Its faithful implementation enables the two parties to resume the negotiations in earnest. On the agenda of the formal peace talks are the social and economic reforms. This second substantive agenda is very central to the negotiations as it seeks solutions to address the roots of armed conflict that has afflicted our land for decades.

Finally, we reiterate our unceasing call for the people to support the peace negotiations. Primarily, our task is to be vigilant lest groups or acts that undermine our aspiration for a just and lasting peace take the upper hand. A just and peaceful country is possible if we remain focused on the road to peace. We owe it to ourselves and the future generations.

From the WebSite of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform

 

 

Thank you for continually praying for the peace in the Philippines.

May the Peace of God embrace our hearts, our minds, our communities, our people, our land, and our world!

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2011/06/10/gph-and-ndfp-please-return-to-the-negotiating-table/