Religious leaders to NDF: Declare unilateral ceasefire

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP)  on Saturday, July 30, urged the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) to declare a unilateral ceasefire as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had done on the part of the government.

In a statement, the PEPP said it strongly encourages the NDF "to reciprocate the gesture toward peace by also declaring a unilateral ceasefire to show a common commitment to establish the conditions for the resumption of the formal peace talks."

This comes as Duterte set a 5 pm deadline on Saturday for the CPP to reciprocate the government’s unilateral ceasefire. 

In its statement, the PEPP also urged both the government and the NDFP "to continue the pursuit of peace."

"They should not allow mistrust to deter or defeat this new beginning that is providing so much hope to our nation and people," the PEPP said.

The PEPP is co-chaired by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and Father Rex Reyes Jr of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.

The group includes prominent Catholic figures such as Sister Mary John Mananzan, Bishop Noel Pantoja of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, and Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum.

In a separate statement, the Mindanao Business Council urged the NDF, as well as the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, "to reciprocate the declaration of President Duterte" of a unilateral ceasefire.

"We remain hopeful that both parties will strengthen their efforts to really pursue with the peace negotiation, work on common points, and meet both ways to move forward with a final political settlement. The sooner we realize these, the better for our country and our countrymen," the Mindanao Business Council said.

"The Mindanao business community, on its part, offer to strengthen its support, proactively participate, and be part of the solution, in the quest for peace. It is hoped that this kind of involvement will be sustained and expanded to a larger constituency," the council added. –