Philippine church and activist groups renewed calls for peace as the government and communist rebels ended a holiday truce this week.
“It is high time for the two parties to continue the search for lasting peace,” said Father Dionito Cabillas, head of the ecumenical church group Isaiah Ministry.
A holiday ceasefire, which started on Dec. 23, between the Philippine government and the Communist Party of the Philippines ended on Jan. 7.
Members of activist group New Patriotic Alliance held a demonstration on the same day to urge President Rodrigo Duterte to “ignore peace spoilers.”
Renato Reyes, secretary general of the group, said the so-called peace spoilers “want to impose unreasonable and impractical conditions for the talks.”
He also said the military establishment’s opposition to the peace talks comes from “an arrogant and mistaken belief … that the armed conflict can be defeated through rehashed counter-insurgency strategies.”
The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, meanwhile, said the government and the rebels need to immediately work toward the resumption of the talks “to address the roots of the armed conflict.”
The group also appealed to the government to release political prisoners “on humanitarian grounds” and to the communist rebels to release their “prisoners of war.”
Duterte announced the termination of peace negotiations with the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines in November 2017.
In December last year, the president ordered the reconstitution of the government’s peace panel and continue the talks.
Father Cabillas said the Philippine government’s actions toward peace and peacebuilding “can set an example to the international community.”
He said Duterte “must stand against war and encourage other heads of state to stand in the middle of two conflicting parties or countries and prevent further bloodshed.”