How Joma can help to win peace
WE THANK Jose Maria Sison for being more open on the issues and proposals of the National Democratic Front (NDF) online.
At the very least, it shows that he may now be ready to agree to the conduct of an open, participatory and comprehensive peace process, even as he still insists that this be conducted outside the country, primarily because of his deeply held concerns for his and his peace negotiators/consultants’ personal security and safety. This is understandable: Those fighting a war would rather enjoy its fruits than be counted among those who have sacrificed their lives in the name of national democracy.
Joma’s declaration that “The changes we wanted to happen in our country are very doable if the Duterte government is determined, together with the NDF, to have fundamental change, genuine freedom, and development,” is—on the surface—very laudable and worth pursuing.
However, it raises many questions. Exactly what does he mean by that declaration? Can’t Joma state his ideas simply—not in “motherhood forms”—so that they would be easily understood by the people? Does he honestly believe that his “motherhood ideas” can be clearly defined for us only by the government and NDF negotiators meeting halfway across the world? How can peace talks—held outside of the country and facilitated by foreigners speaking a language that causes most Filipinos “nosebleeds,” so to speak—ever solve national issues that need every Filipino’s attention?
For the past three decades, the government—in its desire to set in place an era of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace—has consistently acceded to Joma’s “demand” that the peace negotiations be held in the Netherlands, with unquestionably sincere Dutchmen mediating the process. And yet, all through these years, nothing substantial has been agreed upon. To this day, not a single doable agreement on how to go about bringing social change has been reached. Apparently, even supposedly simple procedural matters on facilitating the peace negotiations could not be agreed upon.
Maybe it is time we seriously gave the NDF position on the negotiating table a rethink. Perhaps it is time we listened to the sentiments of 98.3 percent of Filipinos who—based on results of the peace education and advocacy phrase of “YES FOR PEACE Bayanihan para sa KKK” (Kapayapaan, Kaunlaran at Kasaganahan)—would rather see the peace talks held here instead of abroad. Joma may want to seriously consider the University of the Philippines as a venue and as a facilitator in the peace negotiations as resolved by the UP Board of Regents in 1992.
Also, Joma may want to livestream and post in real-time the formal proceedings of the peace talks and/or joint statements to openly show the Filipino people that, indeed, he represents our interests and not only his own.
After all, “Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” Therefore, we, the people, need to know what Joma is claiming on our behalf.
By accepting the foregoing propositions, he can enjoy as much propaganda mileage as the government and the ruling elite, while enabling the negotiators to focus on the job at hand—crafting a peace agreement that will breeze through Congress and not suffer the same fate as the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law—with carefully considered inputs from the Filipino people.
Of course, his security and safety as well as those of his peace negotiators and consultants will have to be guaranteed by the government for all these to happen.
—ERNESTO ANGELES ALCANZARE, organizer, Yes For Peace, email@example.com
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