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Ifugao forum reiterates support for just peace

KIANGAN, Ifugao — Ifugaos from various sectors and municipalities gathered for a multi-stakeholder peace forum themed, “Understanding the Peace Process” on December 2 at Bolog, Kiangan. The forum was organized by the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), in partnership with the Ifugao Provincial Local Government Unit (PLGU) and the Pun-oohaan di Nungkanomnoman ad Ifugao (Ifugao Elders Alliance).

“Adda ti gubat, ta awan ti kappia. Kasta met nga awan ti kappia, ta adda ti gubat. Masapul nga biruken tayo, ramuten tayo nu apay ta adda ti gubat.(Isunga) Dakayu man nga NDFP, dakayo man nga GRP, agtugaw kayo ta pagtungtungan yu, pagtungtungan tayo ti kappia (There is war because there is no peace. Similarly, there is no peace because there is war. We have to know and identify the root causes of war. [That’s why] You, the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) and the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) should sit down and talk about peace. Let us all talk about peace.),” said Fr. Clarence Olat of PEPP as he encouraged everybody to participate in the discussions.

Meanwhile, Randy Felix Malayao, a consultant for the NDFP, shared the history and background of the peace process, noting that peace negotiations failed in the past because the GRP pushed for the capitulation of the revolutionary forces through indefinite ceasefires and failed to recognize and uphold previous joint agreements such as the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

However, he said that there were significant gains in the peace talks, as evidenced by the 19 joint agreements such as the Comprehensive Agreement to Respect Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). The CARHRIHL is the first of four substantive agenda agreed upon by both parties at the beginning of the peace talks.

Malayao shared that both panels are now working on the meat of the peace talks, the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio Economic Reforms (CASER) is the second of four substantive agenda which would tackle 14 specific points including agrarian reform and rural development, national industrialization, and economic development.

“One of the immediate concerns of the CASER is to stop the operation of big mining companies because the people do not really benefit from it; if we are the ones using it, the resources would not be gone even in 100 years, but these would not last 20 years under the imperialists and capitalists,” added Malayao in response to Didipio landowners affected by Oceana Gold’s mining operations.

Moreover, Kennedy Bangibang, the NDFP consultant for the National Minority and Cordillera affairs, and a member of the reciprocal working committee of the CASER, encouraged the people to give their feedback on the NDFP’s draft program for National Minorities to be presented on the 3rd round of talks this coming January 18 to 25 to be held in Italy.

Bangibang stressed that the peace process is a long and hard journey that both panels should take seriously. He added that the GRP’s claim to finish the peace talks in just six months may not be realistic when the GRP’s CASER draft submitted to the NDFP barely contained any details of their programs.

Arsenio Humiding, a representative from Afonso Lista said it is not the sole work of the peace panel to work for peace but for the people to demand it. “Uray kasanu ti arapaap da nga mangilaban, nu awan ti suporta tayo, han ku ammo no adda sirbi na, nu adda papananna dayta (No matter how persistent they are in working to achieve peace, if there is no support from the people, then it will go nowhere),” He added.

“Itultuloy yo ladta ti pannakidangadang ti umili iti naduma-duma nga porma. Haan kayo agbuteng ta karbengan yo diyay; nu inusar tayo man ti kangatuan nga porma, karbengan tayo met diyay (Persist in the struggle using different forms. Do not be afraid for it is your right; if we used the highest form (of struggle), it is also within our rights),” ended Bangibang.

The forum participants made a resolution supporting the peace talks while pointing out community problems and issues. The participants agreed to continue to push for peace and to hold another forum on the peace talks with both GRP-NDF panels present after the third round of peace talks.

(Repost from Nordis.net. Article by Ms. Precirose Angel)