MANILA — The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has denied a request to mediate in the dialogue between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF), questioning the sincerity of the latter.
“The CBCP for its part categorically states that it cannot take in the role of initiating, convening, mediating or presiding over a dialogue between the National Democratic Front and government representatives,” said CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas, in a statement entitled,”The CBCP President on the REQUEST to MEDIATE IN THE GOVERNMENT-NDF DIALOGUE.”
He added, “We are of the firm persuasion that under the present circumstances, this cannot be part of our ecclesial mandate as an episcopal conference.”
But, Villegas did not indicate who made the request.
The Lingayen-Dagupan prelate noted that the group has used the occasion of recruiting members instead of sitting down and talk about ending the hostilities.
“The cessation of hostilities usually declared on the occasion of negotiations have regrettably been used by the rebel forces to recruit membership especially in far flung barangays that have had to labor under the burden of supplying food and sustenance to the members of he New People’s Army,” Villegas said.
“And while insurgents complain that some of their leaders have been arrested while on safe-conduct passes, it is our understanding that such passes were issued to allow their representatives to attend negotiations and conferences, and not for the purpose of consolidating membership,” the CBCP head added.
However, the Catholic prelate assured both parties that they will continue to pray for them to reach a concrete decision which will benefit them.
“We the bishops of the Philippines will continue to pray for a peaceful resolution to this long-festering problem of insurgency in the country,” Villegas said.
He also “encouraged qualified lay persons to contribute to the dialogue and to foster that spirit of openness and sincerity that alone can make negotiations promising.”
Last year, the peace talks between both parties ended.