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All-out peace, not all-out war.

Alarmed by the recent declaration of 'all-out war' by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), following President Duterte's order to terminate the peace talks between the Philippine government (GRP) and the NDF, we, members and allied partners and networks of the All-Out Peace Movement (AOP), urge both the GRP and the CPP/NPA/NDF to instead work for all-out peace.

We urge them to pause and contemplate on the possible repercussions of an all-out war, especially on the people on the ground, who, for the last five decades, have been at the

receiving end of this armed conflict.

The AOP speaks for the women, children, peace workers, indigenous peoples, spouses and relatives of soldiers and guerrillas, and especially for the innocent victims of the war and the most vulnerable in war.

This war, waged in the name of the people, has to stop. The people, their future and welfare must be given premium if we, as one nation, intend to live up to our collective desire to arrest this cycle of senseless violence and vindictiveness.

Our people have had more than enough. This decades-old war has cost billions of pesos of tax money spent for arms and ammunition; money that could have been spent instead constructively for health, housing and education and other social services. This war is stealing big from our people, a crime against our people.

And it has been proven futile and detrimental to people's interest and welfare. A militarist approach to end conflict has been proven to be ineffective as it brings instead unrest to peaceful communities and causes destruction, displacing thousands of families, depriving them of livelihood-a fact that the present administration recognizes, prompting it to make for a bold and fresh approach to peace.

We urge both the GRP and NDF to refrain from throwing accusations against each other and instead go back to the negotiating table to settle their differences and reaffirm the primacy of peace. They should keep to the path of peace, the peace talks, a byproduct of the people's consistent desire for just and lasting peace.

We urge both sides to stay the course in this search. There are still reasons for optimism; the recent setbacks are mere challenges, they can be surmounted through sincere dialogue.

We likewise appeal to President Duterte to reconsider his decision to terminate the formal talks. In just a short period, the last round of talks made significant advances compared to earlier negotiations.

Discontinuing the peace talks would put to waste these gains, and set aside the 'most compelling reason' why the peace negotiation must proceed-war can never be a substitute to the people's desire for a just and lasting peace.

The AOP appeals to the members of the peace panels to keep to sobriety, mutual respect and calmness. We fervently hope that by the time they decide to resume the peace talks, the interest of the people will be topmost on their peace agenda.

NO TO ALL-OUT WAR! YES TO ALL-OUT PEACE!

Gus Miclat for All-Out Peace Movement

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Mar 2, 2017
Words:580
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