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Churches call on communists and Manila to resume talks

ICC Note: Steps are being taken by Christian leaders to work towards an end to a conflict that has been waging for nearly 40 years in the Philippines. They say the divine between the wealthy elite and the laborers without land needs to be narrowed to avoid further bloodshed. Another area of concern is the rising violence from Muslim militants in the southern part of the country.

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1/22/2008 Philippines (Reuters) Philippine Christian leaders called on the government and communist rebels on Tuesday to revive peace talks to end a near 40-year conflict and said they would take active steps in local communities to help forge a truce.
Roman Catholic and various Protestant bishops told a news conference the government needed to implement genuine land reform to close a widening income gap between a small elite with large estates and millions of landless labourers.
“We would really like to make sure that no more blood should be shed on both sides because we’re really all brothers and sisters,” said Antonio Ledesma, Roman Catholic archbishop of Cagayan de Oro City on the southern island of Mindanao.

Active in 69 of 81 Philippine provinces, the communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels have been waging a protracted guerrilla war that has killed more than 40,000 people and stunted economic growth.
The rebels rely on the support of rural communities, which also supply them with young recruits.

The Philippines is also battling Muslim militants in the south of the country and trying to agree a peace deal with Muslim insurgents, who want some measure of independence from the Catholic central government.

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