Students and peace advocates gathered at the Ateneo de Davao University’s Finster Auditorium last Feb. 24 for Journey to Peace: Overcoming the Obstacles.
The peace forum is held with the intention of pushing for the continuation of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The event was held in the fallout of President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to unilaterally terminate the GRP-NDFP negotiations.
University president Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ linked the pursuit for the resumption of the talks with the patriotism and desire for peace embodied in the 1986 People Power Revolution.
“No one party can claim that the heroism of the EDSA People Power Revolution belongs to them. The patriotism and the heroism that was shown in that particular exercise for peace does not belong to one group; it belongs to all. And perhaps we come together in the quest of peace today, also in the spirit of people power, trying to recognize what the people want, and what the people desire: peace,” he said.
Among the speakers of the forum were GABRIELA-Davao Chairperson Emeritus Lyda Canson, Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao, GRP Panelist Atty. Angela Librado, NDFP Legal Counsel Atty. Fatima Adin, NDFP Chief Negotiator Fidel Agcaoili, and Bishop Felixberto Calang of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente.
The event focused on what the peace talks have achieved so far, and what lies ahead after its termination. Rep. Casilao talked about the negotiation process’ history, which spans 3 decades, 5 Philippine presidents, and over 40 rounds of talks so far.
Librado, Adin, and Agcaoili talked about the progress of the most recent round of negotiations in Rome last Jan. 19-25, 2017. Bishop Calang discussed about the prospects and challenges that lay ahead of the talks.
Mass Communication student Kiana Flores weighed in on the event.
“The event was a good way to disseminate information and updates about the peace talks. I liked that the speakers went back and walked us through the timeline of the peace talks which, apparently, have been going on for more than a decade,” she said.
Journey for Peace is a joint effort by the Women’s Alliance for True Change (WATCH-Mindanao), the University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council of the Ateneo de Davao University (UCEAC-AdDU), and the Integrated Gender and Development Division (IGDD) of the Davao City government.
A peace walk was conducted after the forum with the similar purpose of calling for the resumption of the negotiations.