Quest for just peace is complicated process | Inquirer Opinion

Quest for just peace is complicated process

05:03 AM November 28, 2017

Kapayapaan, an alliance of advocates for just peace, deplores President Duterte’s sudden and unjustified cancellation/termination of peace talks with the National Democratic Front, ordering the arrest of NDF consultants, tagging the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and NDF as “terrorists,” and threatening legal activists with arrests.

These constitute a complete turnaround from his avowed policy of talking peace with the communist rebels to end close to five decades of armed conflict in the country by negotiating much-needed socioeconomic and political reforms.

Just peace is an overarching concern for millions of Filipinos. This was the basis for the popular support the peace negotiations enjoyed during the initial months of the Duterte administration, when hopes for significant changes became possible with both sides exhibiting openness to resolve the roots of the armed conflict.

The road to just peace under the Duterte presidency, however, has been littered with grave obstacles, as military operations in the countryside continued without let-up under its counterinsurgency campaign ironically called “Oplan Kapayapaan.” Thousands of Filipinos, including women and children, have been killed without due process under the war on illegal drugs, and killings and arrests of peasant leaders and activists continued with impunity. The bombing and destruction of Marawi City, with the
real death toll and damage to civilian properties still unclear, is also an additional thorn to the peace process, with calls for justice by the affected victims remaining unheeded by the Duterte administration.


These actions only serve to sabotage the peace process and hamper the confidence and goodwill measures carried out by both sides during the initial months of the Duterte administration. Such actions harmful to the people do not, and never will, constitute a “favorable environment” for the peace negotiations which the government panel itself has repeatedly tried to set as a precondition for resuming the peace process.

That armed clashes continue to occur between government forces and the communist rebels is all the more reason to return to the negotiating table. The quest for just peace is a complicated process that requires perseverance amid
difficulties, wisdom in handling disagreements and a sincerity to bring about significant reforms as the people demand. It cannot be solved with armed might and threats and actual harming of defenseless civilians, particularly activists and community leaders.

Neither will demonizing the CPP/NPA/NDF by arbitrarily labeling them as “terrorists” like the Islamic State achieve anything, precisely because the NDF-led revolutionary movement has been consistent in its advocacy for the interests of the peasantry for land reform as a starting point for genuine national industrialization.

Kapayapaan urges the Duterte administration to return to the talks, and do the hard work of hammering out a peace agreement acceptable to both sides and to the Filipino people and avert the prolongation of a civil war fueled by long-standing social injustice and violations of the people’s democratic rights.

FR. BEN ALFORQUE and SHARON CABUSAO, spokespersons, Kapayapaan, [email protected]

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TAGS: Duterte, National Democratic Front

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