Bishops Conference to stay out of gov’t-Communist front peace talks – CBCP president

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan (right) /NJ Viehland Photos

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan (right) /NJ Viehland Photos

The CBCP President 

on the

REQUEST to MEDIATE IN THE GOVERNMENT-NDF DIALOGUE

The National Democratic Front presents itself as the umbrella organization of which the Community Party of the Philippines – New People’s army is supposedly its military arm.  We make these statements with trepidation because we are not sure about the degree of cohesiveness that exists between the top echelons of the Front and local cadres of the New People’s Army.  We have been informed by members of the government peace panel that they were under the impression that many of the attacks and raids conducted on the local fronts were hardly ever known and — if ever — only belatedly acknowledged by Utrecht leaders.

The Situation

The Government of the Philippines has repeatedly acceded to peace talks, appointing top-level negotiators even requesting the involvement of the good offices of such foreign governments as the government of Norway.  Regrettably, none of these prolonged, and expensive negotiations have borne substantial fruit.  The cessation of hostilities usually declared on the occasion of negotiations have regrettably been used by the rebel forces to recruit membership especially in far flung barangays that have had to labor under the burden of supplying food and sustenance to the members of he New People’s Army.  And while insurgents complain that some of their leaders have been arrested while on safe-conduct passes, it is our understanding that such passes were issued to allow their representatives to attend negotiations and conferences, and not for the purpose of consolidating membership.

Our Mission

When the Catholic Bishops Conference mediates, when it engages in dialogue, when it initiates negotiation, when it gets adversaries talking to each other, it does so at all times as herald of the Gospel and servant of the Kingdom of God.  Truth and justice are therefore its primary and non-negotiable guideposts, and when it does not find these present, or when, in its discernment, made in prayer and docility to the prompting of the Spirit, it does not find a disposition to sincerity and trustworthiness in the parties to the dialogue, the CBCP will not lend itself to a fruitless exercise or to a charade visited on the entire country.

Communism and Capitalism

We the bishops of the Philippines will continue to pray for a peaceful resolution to this long-festering problem of insurgency in the country.  While events of recent history have proven with historical certainty the impracticability of such socialist societies as the now-defunct Soviet Union and Eastern Europe once espoused, neither must we forget Pope Francis’ constant teaching that unbridled and unprincipled capitalism cannot be any better and is as exploitative and oppressive particularly on the marginalized.  We encourage qualified lay persons to contribute to the dialogue and to foster that spirit of openness and sincerity that alone can make negotiations promising.

The CBCP for its part categorically states that it cannot take in the role of initiating, convening, mediating or presiding over a dialogue between the National Democratic Front and government representatives.  We are of the firm persuasion that under the present circumstances, this cannot be part of our ecclesial mandate as an episcopal conference.

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Manila, November 10, 2014

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

    Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
    President, CBCP

 Note: As of post time, CBCP’s reply to questions on “request to mediate” had not arrived.

 

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