Peace group to GRP, NDFP: Silence the hungry stomachs

Apr. 03, 2017

Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Felixberto Calang, convenor of the Sowing the Seeds of Peace Movement in Mindanao chats with Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza after the opening ceremony of the fourth round of the GRP-NDFP peace talks in Radisson Blu Palace Hotel in Noordwijk, the Netherlands on Monday, April 3, 2017. (Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano/

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—A peace advocate here appealed to both government and the communist group to pursue what it called a “genuine dialogue” that would usher a just and lasting peace in the country.

While it lauded the opening of the fourth round of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations on Monday, Bishop Felixberto Calang, convener of Sowing the Seeds of Peace, pointed out that both peace panels should go beyond the “silencing of the guns.” Calang is participating as an independent observer to the fourth round of the GRP-NDFP peace talks in Noordwijk, in the Netherlands.

“With the decision of both panels to push thru with the opening of the talks today, we appeal for genuine dialogue to proceed so that the talks can truly reflect the will of the people towards silencing the hunger of the stomach rather than merely working out the silencing of the guns,” Calang said in a statement Monday.

Calang said that peace advocates are hoping that “breakthroughs” could be achieved as the Filipino people wants “to see the fruition of social and economic transformation” under the Duterte administration.

“The people are holding on to the strong belief that this will happen under President Duterte because he had campaigned on a promise of change. President Duterte started out on a platform of a just and lasting peace for the sake of the current generation of Filipinos,” he added.

The supposed formal opening of the fourth round of peace talks in The Netherlands on Sunday was delayed after President Rodrigo Duterte phoned Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza of what appeared to be some conditions prior to the talks.

Dureza said that the President wanted an enabling environment for the peace negotiations to continue by ordering the armed-components of both Parties to “silence their guns,” a euphemism for a suspension of offensive operations.

“You know the President wants to quiet the guns and provide an enabling environment for the negotiations while we are negotiating. It would be difficult to negotiate while armed encounters continue on the ground,” Dureza said earlier.

But Calang, however, expressed concerned over the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ perception of peace as a matter of “national security.”

“We assert that a just and lasting peace should uphold ‘people’s security’ based on a clear social justice agenda. As he promised in his inaugural, the President must listen to the “murmurings of the people” for change as he places his ears firmly on the ground,” he pointed out. (

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