Release of peace consultants before SONA sought

Workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno held a Metro Manila wide Peace Caravan to call for the release of National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultants, before President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address on July 25.

“We urge the Philippine government peace panel to hasten the release of illegally detained NDFP peace consultants before President Duterte’s first SONA. Their release would be crucial to the resumption of the peace talks as it guarantees that previously signed agreements would be honored” Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary general, said.

KMU claimed that among the 22 illegally detained NDFP consultants are unionists and labor rights defenders namely Adelberto Silva, Renante Gamara, Benito and Wilma Tiamzon and Ernesto Lorenzo.

“Workers are looking forward for the immediate of labor rights advocates among the NDFP consultants so they could raise workers’ issues and struggles in the peace talks. Aside from being key personalities in the peace talks, they should also be released immediately on humanitarian ground because of their health conditions” Adonis said.

The workers’ peace caravan converged along Welcome Rotonda with a symbolical display of dove-shaped placards showing workers’ demands for a meaningful change and just and lasting peace.

The labor center meanwhile expressed disappointment over the postponement of the formal talks which was announced by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza. According to the Dureza, the GPH panel has proposed to move the talks on August 20 instead of the previously agreed July 28 to give time for the release of NDFP consultants.

“The GPH should not prolong the incarceration of NDFP consultants. They have already been unjustly detained for too long. However, we are hopeful that the postponement of the talks would give time for the administration to fulfill its commitment to release all 22 peace consultants” Adonis said.

KMU meanwhile put up posters and handed out leaflets calling on workers to support the resumption of the GPH-NDFP peace talks which would also serve as a venue to raise workers’ demands for a meaningful change and just and lasting peace in the country.

We call on our fellow workers to support the peace talks. The talks would serve as a venue to raise our concerns for regular jobs, decent wages and respect for workers’ rights. In doing so, we must push the President Duterte to fulfill his promise of peace and oppose the elements who wants to sabotage his initiative to resolve the long-standing armed conflict in the country.” Adonis said.