MEDIA RELEASE

August 19, 2016

JustPeacePH

Global platform of just peace advocates welcome opening of formal peace talks in Norway on August 22

“The release of a small but significant number of political prisoners this week in the Philippines is demonstrating a serious intent by the new Duterte Administration to make progress in the long drawn-out negotiating agenda with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and we warmly welcome this development,” said Peter Murphy, Chairperson of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines and spokesperson of an international platform advocating just peace in the Philippines.

“Our Coalition has launched JustPeacePH to be a global advocate for these peace talks, which begin in Oslo, Norway next week under the auspices of the Royal Norwegian Government.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had promised to release political prisoners – there were 509 at the time of his inauguration on June 30 – but political and judicial barriers had delayed and shrunk the process all the way through July. The initial July 27 date for the peace talks to begin was pushed back. Fourteen (14) NDF peace consultants have so far been released to take part in the Oslo talks – Jaime Soledad, Kennedy Bangibang, Ruben Salutra, Alexander Birondo, Winona Birondo, Alfredo Mapano, Concha Bocala, Alan Jazmines, Tirso Alcantara, Renante Gamara, Lorenzo Ernesto, Ariel Arbitrario, Eddie Genelsa and Adelberto Silva.

All of these, and more, should never have been arrested since they were guaranteed immunity under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees signed between the two parties in peace talks in 1995.

“We call on the Duterte Administration and the National Democratic Front to fully adhere to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International humanitarian Law, which they signed in 1998,” said Canon Barry Naylor, a UK-based advocate for human rights in the Philippines, and a sponsor of JustPeacePH. “This agreement is there to protect civilians in war zones and also uphold the rules of war as defined in the Geneva Conventions.

“Upholding this agreement will really help the peace talks to advance on the substantial issues which are at the root of the armed conflicts in the Philippines,” said Canon Naylor.

The immediate agenda item at the Oslo talks is a Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms.

For reference : Peter Murphy +61 418 312 301

Rev. Canon Barry Naylor +44 (0) 775 7853621

JustPeacePH is an international platform which supports the Philippine peace process (www.justpeace.ph)