The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – Canada is deeply disappointed by the cancellation of the fifth round of peace talks between the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDFP) by President Duterte and his cabinet. The talks were originally scheduled to begin today, June 28 in Oslo, Norway. We condemn this decision by Duterte as it is the third time he has cancelled talks which seek to address almost 50 years of civil war in the Philippines. Furthermore, this cancellation represents a lack of will by the US-Duterte regime to consider socio-economic reforms that would improve the lives of all people in the Philippines.
The peace talks were set to address the root causes of the armed conflict and the need for the people in the Philippines to take up arms to fight against poverty, landlessness, and human rights violations. The intern peace agreement, to be signed by the GRP and NDFP at these talks, would have included reforms to address agrarian reform and rural development, national industrialization and economic development, and an amnesty proclamation for almost 800 political prisoners. These measures would have undoubtedly benefited the millions of landless Filipinos who live and work on the land but still go hungry. These measures are also imperative to address the issue of forced migration, as millions of Filipino workers are forced to migrate abroad since there are no jobs at home.
The peace talks are believed to have been canceled due to Duterte’s consultations with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), who are currently planning an “all-out offensive” until the end of 2018. The AFP are currently occupying hundreds of rural and indigenous communities, destroying their vital infrastructure and unleashing terror on citizens. Despite the GRP and NDFP having signed a coordinated unilateral ceasefire covering the period of the peace talks on June 8, the GRP have unilaterally decided to cancel this agreement in order to implement their nefarious agenda. The cancellation is even more alarming in a context where the Philippine House of Representatives’ is attempting to consolidate Duterte’s power by imposing tax reforms, changes to the constitution, and anti-terrorism legislation. Through these actions, it is clear that the US-Duterte regime prioritizes foreign interests, oligarchs, and warmongers over the interests of ordinary citizens.
In solidarity with the Filipino people, we, the undersigned organizations, call upon the Duterte’s government to:
- Honour the ceasefire agreement signed on June 8 and stop the AFP’s agenda of “all-out war”.
- Schedule the fifth round of peace talks as soon as possible and negotiate with the NDFP panel with sincerity on matters concerning socio-economic reforms.
- Free all political prisoners, especially ensuring that NDFP peace consultants are granted their rights under the JASIG and CARHRIHL agreements.
Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights
Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
Philippine Migrants Society of Canada
Just Peace Committee, Vancouver, BC
Philippine Independent Church – GTA
Philippine Solidarity Group/ICHRP-Toronto
Canada- Palestine Association (Vancouver)
South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD)
Alliance for People’s Health (APH)