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Church leaders, CSOs gather to discuss key peace, security issues

By Teng Lauban Datu
Cotabato City Bureau Chief .

“Nobody wins in a cruel and bloody war. This has to stop.”

This was the message of Cagayan de Oro Archbishop and Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform co-chair Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ to representatives of church, civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations coming from Northeastern Mindanao, recently.

The gathering, organized by the Balay Mindanaw Foundation Inc. and PEPP, aimed to discuss key peace and security challenges confronting the region and recommend solutions to address them.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Assistant Secretary for Mindanao Concerns Dickson Hermoso said the “agency will continue to implement its mandate and carry out the best steps towards [attaining] peace.”

Hermoso, who represented Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity Carlito Galvez Jr. during the event, said the President Rodrigo Duterte has directed Opapru to open a “little window” for the possible resumption of peace talks once there is already an “enabling environment.”

To recall, the President ordered the termination of peace talks between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines on Nov. 27, 2017.

On Dec. 4, 2018, President Duterte issued Executive Order No. 70 authorizing local government units to pursue localized peace engagements with communist rebels in their respective areas of responsibility.

EO 70 is entitled “Institutionalizing the Whole-of–Nation Approach in Attaining Inclusive and Sustainable Peace, Creating a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, and Directing the Adoption of a National Peace Framework.”

The Task Force is headed by the President and co-chaired by the National Security Adviser, with members coming from concerned government agencies and two private sector representatives.

Over the years, the PEPP and BMFI have been supporting the peace process between the GRP and NDFP, which aims to put an end to the decades-long armed conflict by addressing its social, economic and political root causes. (with reports from opapp)

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