Tuesday, November 16, 2010

PHILIPPINES: Peace Talks 'In Peril,' Rights Groups Say*

PHILIPPINES: Peace Talks 'In Peril,' Rights Groups Say*

Church and human rights groups warned that the peace process between the Philippine government and communist rebels is imperiled by President Benigno Aquino III's refusal to meet with rebel leaders.

The Society of Ex-Detainees for Liberation and Amnesty (SELDA) said Aquino's hesitation to meet with the leaders of the National Democratic Front (NDF) [1] is an "act of arrogance."

"It undermines the efforts of church workers, peace advocates and human rights organizations for resuming the peace talks," added SELDA executive director Father Dionisio Cabillas of the Philippine Independent Church [2].

The NDF had proposed a courtesy call by the head of the NDF peace panel, former priest Luis Jalandoni, in the presidential palace later this month. However, Aquino said he still has to consult with his advisers on the matter.

"If the president closes the door on peace, the gates for more human rights abuses would be flung open," said human rights group Karapatan (Rights), adding that the government should not impose conditions on the peace process.

Karapatan has been pressing Aquino for the immediate release of political prisoners and justice for victims.

* Url:http://www.columban.com/rp_peace_talks_in_peril.html