GRP, heed the people’s call for a just and lasting peace, address the roots of armed conflict in the country - Katribu

June 17, 2018 | Statement in response to the Duterte regime's "postponement" of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines 

We, the indigenous peoples (IP) of the Philippines, long called on and engaged the Duterte regime to work for a just and lasting peace in our communities and country since the inauguration of Duterte as president of the Philippines in June 30, 2016.

On his first day as president, we submitted to the Office of the President the IP Agenda for Land, Self- determination, Rights and Just Peace. The 9-page document contains our demands under the following themes: Resume the peace talks and release of political prisoners; End the plunder and destruction of our ancestral lands and territories; End the militarization and human rights violations against IP; Deliver appropriate government services, especially to the victims of natural and man-made disasters; and Bring justice for the many IP leaders and communities who were victims of the ruthless counterinsurgency program of the past regimes, especially of the BS Aquino administration.

We even had several dialogues with Duterte for the immediate pullout of military forces from our communities to give way for the rehabilitation of our communities and livelihood destroyed by the military operations and forced evacuations.

In Mindanao, Visayas, Luzon and the national level, we participated in several people’s peace summits, organized by multi-sectoral organizations and some government agencies. These produced concrete recommendations for immediate and long-term reforms for socio-

We held dialogues with the DENR to halt the exploitative and irresponsible mining operations in our territories; the DSWD to undertake comprehensive rehabilitation of our communities devastated by previous typhoons and military operations; the DOJ to resolve the issue of trumped-up criminal charges against our leaders, teachers and advocates; and the DAR to actualize agrarian reform in the countryside.

In the first national caravan of the Bangsamoro and IP for self-determination and just peace in 2016, we called for an independent foreign policy consonant to Duterte’s own pronouncement. Such policy strengthens our national sovereignty, liberate our territories from land grabbing, resource plunder and destruction by imperialist corporations, and to give justice for our people colonized and massacred by the US’ imperialist war.

We led and participated in hundreds of protest actions in the streets to demand the end Oplan Kapayapaan and all-out war, the so-called War on Terror and martial law in Mindanao; and called the Duterte regime to resume the peace talks and address the roots of social unrest and the armed conflict in our country.

But again Duterte hangs the resumption of peace talks with the NDFP, merely saying ‘We’re not ready.’ His regime hardly justifies this saying there is a need ‘for a more thorough engagement with the public.’ Ironically, Duterte abruptly cancels the peace talks when both peace panels have resolved hindrances and reached positive agreements for its formal resumption.

The “public goodwill” and sentiment for a just peace has long been laid, but were ignored by Duterte. Instead he now became a puppet of the US like past regimes, forges new deals with China to sellout the resources in our territories, and intensifies Oplan Kapayapaan - a militarist and psychological war that targets especially the IP, Bangsamoro, peasants and workers.

We challenge the Duterte regime, to show its sincerity to the Filipino people, act on our demands, and immediately resume the peace talks with the NDFP and work towards the forging of an agreement for a comprehensive and thoroughgoing program for social and economic reforms. #