CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 23 June 2018

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Informal efforts to revive stalled peace talks

MANILA (UCAN): Church leaders in the Philippines welcomed the news of informal talks between the government and communist rebels, looking at ways to revive stalled peace negotiations which the president, Rodrigo Duterte, terminated on 23 November 2017.
 
He accused the rebels of failing to show “sincerity and commitment to pursuing genuine and meaningful negotiations.”
 
However, Jesus Dureza, adviser on the peace process to president, Rodrigo Duterte, said on January 18 that his office is continuing to look for ways and means to advance the peace process.
 
“We’re doing it, but in a very unofficial and quiet way,” Dureza said.
 
The Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila said, “Even a flicker can brighten the darkest room. All avenues to restore the talks should be explored.” 
 
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said the government and the rebels should not give up on peace, adding that, “conflicts are solved with dialogue. Let us work for peace. Both parties should speak and there must be sincerity on both sides.” 
 
Duterte, however, said he would only return to the negotiating table if rebels lower their demands.
 
He said he wanted to talk with communist leader, Jose Maria Sison, who is in exile in the Netherlands, “to come home” and talk.
 
“The two of us should talk privately,” said Duterte.
 
For his part, Sison said he welcomed Duterte’s “positive statement,” adding that, “such a statement was more important” than the president’s “angry words.”
 
In a statement, Sison said, “In the interest of the Filipino people and for the sake and purpose of resuming the peace negotiations, I am willing to have serious conversations with President Duterte.” 
 
The communist leader said he is willing to meet the president in a country near the Philippines, adding that he would only return home when peace negotiations resume.
 
Defense secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, earlier said the resumption of talks with communist rebels is possible “if the environment is good and there is trust on both sides.”
 
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos called on both sides, “to agree to seek a win-win situation and try to understand where each is coming from.”

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