MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino fishermen appealed to Hollywood star and UN messenger of peace George Clooney on Thursday to urge the Philippine government to resume talks with communist rebels to end a 40-year-old insurgency.
Norway-brokered peace talks to end the fighting have been stalled since 2004 and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered her military to stamp out the insurgency by the time she steps down in 2010.
"Our sector is one of the hardest hit groups in the course of the Philippine military operations against the communist guerrillas in the countryside," the fishermen's alliance Pamalakaya (Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas or National Federation of Fisherfolk Organizations) said in their letter to the actor, mailed to UN headquarters in New York.
A copy of the letter, dated Thursday, was also sent to The Associated Press.
"We believe you can make a difference and become an instrument of peace in our country by asking the Philippine government to pave the way for revival of the peace talks," Pamalakaya said.
Last week, the UN made Clooney a "messenger of peace" to promote the world body's activities, especially in its far-flung peacekeeping missions. The 46-year-old actor is already actively campaigning for an end to the 4 1/2-year war in Darfur and for humanitarian aid for the impoverished millions caught up in the conflict.
Calls Thursday to the office of Clooney's publicist in Los Angeles, Stan Rosenfield, were picked up by an answering machine.
A Philippine farmers' group made a similar plea for help in December to another Hollywood star, UN goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie. She has not responded.
The government is willing to resume peace talks if the rebels agree to a ceasefire, Cabinet Secretary Ricardo Saludo said Thursday.
"That would end the bloodshed and lay the foundation for sincere, productive negotiations towards a lasting settlement of the communist rebellion," Saludo said.
Military chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. last year proposed a three-year truce, but the rebels turned it down. Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison said Thursday there should be no precondition for the resumption of talks.