MANILA- The Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity of the University of the Philippines Diliman on Friday used the traditional Oblation Run to call for an end to drug-related killings and the resumption of peace talks between the government and communist rebels.
The fraternity, in a statement, raised concerns over the prevailing "climate of fear and death" in the country, noting the government's bloody crackdown on illegal drugs, the cancellation of peace negotiations between the government and communist rebels, and other pressing national issues such as the rebuilding of war-torn Marawi City.
Members of APO called for a community-based approach in the government's war on drugs, saying the government must commit to rehabilitating drug addicts, and applying "restorative justice" to those linked to illegal drugs.
"Instead of allowing state security forces and lawless elements to kill drug suspects with impunity, we challenge the government to apply the constitutional guarantee to due process on everyone," the fraternity said.
"It is necessary that the government anti-drug movement should build lives, not destroy them," it added.
Providing accessible social services and resolving economic inequality should also be the focus of the government in its efforts to attain peace in Mindanao instead of considering extending martial law in the southernmost island.
"The phantom hope that Martial Law will hasten the achievement of peace in Mindanao is a dangerous, deadly myth," APO said. "As long as those who hold power fail to listen to the democratic demands of the people, our nation's history of violence and armed conflict will continue."
The fraternity appealed to negotiating panels of the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to "return to civility" and resume peace talks.
"Goodwill must be restored between the two camps, and we call for an unconditional bilateral ceasefire as a basis of the resumption of peace negotiations," APO said.
President Rodrigo Duterte last week signed a proclamation that formally ended peace negotiations with communist rebels.
This year's Oblation Run was also used as a venue to call for the speedy rehabilitation of Marawi City, which has been left in ruins following a 5-month long war between government troops and Islamic State-inspired extremists.
"It is in this light that we call on the state to rebuild Marawi in an efficient and timely manner. It must ensure that the city does not experience the same scattershot approach to rehabilitation implemented in the wake of typhoon Yolanda in 2013," the statement read.
"A prosperous, progressive, people-centered Marawi can only be a beacon of hope for the rest of the Bangsamoro a powerful symbol of reconciliation against those who sow hate," it added.
Lastly, the fraternity urged the current administration to be open to dissent and criticism as tools in a democracy.
"In formulating solutions to the issues that our country faces, we have found that there is no better approach than collaboration, consultation, and cooperation," it said.