Duterte killed the peace process twice

Jeanne Mirer, President
International Association of Democratic Lawyers
Email: Jeanne@jmirerlaw.com

Peter Murphy, Chairperson
International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines
Email: peter_murphy1_au@bigpond.com>

Amy Padilla, Executive Director
IBON International
Email: apadilla@iboninternational.org

Peace advocates around the world express deep concern about the latest pronouncement from President Rodrigo Duterte terminating peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

This is not the first time that Duterte has shot down the peace talks. As if one bullet is not enough, he has fired another shot to make sure that the gasping hope for peace won’t ever breathe again.

Duterte terminated peace talks in November 2017 before US defense officials visited in December. With US officials talking again with the Philippine government this week, Duterte has repeated his tired tirade.

US deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia Joseph Felter talked with Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana this week to refurbish the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty of the Philippines with the United States.

Felter also visited the Philippines in December last year and follows US State Secretary Mike Pompeo’s visit to the country this year.

The killing of the peace process means more war, especially the interventionist war of the US in the Philippines.

Duterte has used the decades-long armed conflict as a pretext to declare and extend martial law for his own ambition to stay in power and for the US to keep its strategic forward military presence in the region. As a result, thousands have been victims of outright killings and other rights violations especially among the poor. Foreign corporations and banks are cashing in on their land and resources.

These violations, including atrocious crimes against humanity, have been documented and decided upon by the recent International Peoples’ Tribunal whose findings were submitted to the International Criminal Court, the European Parliament and various UN bodies. Even a recent international probe into the killing of lawyers and human rights defenders were harassed by state forces.

Just in time with Duterte’s killing of the peace process, NDFP peace consultant Reynante Gamara, 61, and retired priest Arturo Balagat, 72, were arrested and, as with other peace consultants arrested, were illegally planted with grenades and firearms and filed with trumped-up charges.

We call for the release of Gamara, Balagat and other peace consultants as we demand the release of the more than 500 political prisoners of conscience in the Philippines.

We denounce US intervention in the Philippines and Duterte’s bloody war. We shall continue to work for peace and dismantle all barriers in achieving a just and lasting peace for the Filipino people.
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