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Mindanao Peace-talk Negotiators Need Help

Bishop Calls for Discourse on Workable Solutions

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro has called on stakeholders in the peace process to join forces and help the government end conflict in Mindanao.

“It is part of the challenges of the peace process that we pool our resources,” Archbishop Ledesma told a meeting of bishops, governors and civic leaders in Cagayan de Oro yesterday.

The archbishop heads the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform that is monitoring peace negotiations between the government and the communist-led National Democratic Front.

He said the government cannot win peace alone. “We stakeholders also need to work for peace,” he added.

The prelate said a lasting peace should not only be achieved in terms of a political agreement but “most importantly through a restoration of relationships.”

Archbishop Ledesma, who also heads the bishops’ conference’s Commission on Inter-religious Dialogue, said there is still a need to explore ways of achieving peace at local and regional levels.

Current negotiations are addressing only 50 percent of the problems, which need to be overcome to achieve peace in Mindanao, a former lawmaker said during the same meeting.

Ariel C. Hernandez of the Anak Mindanao (Child of Mindanao) Party said “the other 50 percent involves disarming Mindanao’s armed groups.”

He said it is “unfortunate” that negotiations do not include decommissioning firearms in the region.

He said the proliferation of weapons contributes to conflicts in Mindanao. (UCAN)