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Time for US to step aside and let the Philippines give peace a chance

A press statement by the Pilgrims for Peace
June 7, 2016

As peace advocates, the last month has been encouraging. Incoming President Duterte continued to underscore his intention to pursue peace in our nation, most immediately by resuming Peace Talks with the National Democratic Front-Philippines (NDFP). In fact, Duterte’s negotiating panel chair Secretary Silvestre Bello III, peace adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza and panel member Hernani Braganza are being sent to Oslo, Norway to engage in preliminary talks on June 16, 2016, even before our new president’s inauguration to office.

Given these positive efforts, we must protest the June 2016 US “terrorist” listing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA). As reported, such listings are based on US interests in our country – we are tired of US interests been peddled as priority over the interests of our people, most especially when we are gearing up for reinvigorated peace negotiations.

This so-called “terrorist” listing is nothing new and we must not let it influence our openness to the pursuit of a just and enduring peace in the Philippines. As has been done for generations, United States intelligence groups regularly label and tag those who do not capitulate to their agenda and primacy in the world; after the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City, the US launched an intensified campaign of foreign domination under the guise of a “War on Terror.” Sadly, such campaigns are often successful in bending Philippine policies and priorities to the benefit of US interests in our nation.

Incoming President Duterte seeks to address historical injustices and to address the roots of armed conflicts through peace negotiations; thus, his plan to establish independent, foreign-relations strategies is essential. The United States is undoubtedly concerned about their interests. After more than a century as colonial and neo-colonial subjects of US Imperialism, the Philippines still struggles to break free from US interests and express our right to self-determination as a people. Duterte is sending a message that instead of pandering to the directives and dictates of the United States, the Philippines will be going our own way in prioritizing Peace Talks with the NDFP. Both Duterte and the NDFP express a daring desire to work for peace based on justice that promotes the interests of the Filipino people and values the sovereignty of the Philippines.

If the United States cares, even an iota, for the peace of our nation and people, they will remove their “terrorist” tagging. Such can impede travel and make it dangerous for Professor Jose Maria Sison, founding chair of the CPP, to attend any activity related to the talks in the Philippines, as requested by our incoming president.

But even more than this, the United States should have the decency to let the Philippines tread our own course in the pursuit of the peace we want. If they desire to be our ally, they should see that Filipinos long to develop a more inclusive, democratic, and economically vibrant nation. Dr. Jose Rizal’s plea “Noli Me Tangere” still echoes across the archipelago to insist that the United States step aside, so that our nation can give peace a chance, even as Andres Bonifacio spurs us forward, “Panahon na ngayong dapat na lumitaw ang liwanag ng katotohanan; panahon ng dapat nating ipakilala na tayo’y may sariling pagdaramdam, may puri, may hiya, at may pagdadamayan.”

Let us give peace a chance.

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