For those unfamiliar with the current state of affairs, the Philippines has been in a state of civil war for almost 50 years. Each presidential administration since the 1990s has tried to forge some measure of peace, but always abandoned those attempts quite early on. After all, peace is much harder to achieve than war.
Current president of the Philippines ran on the promise of being dedicated and serious in addressing the root causes of the nigh on 50 yr conflict between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Philippines (GRP) After his election, the peace talks that had stalled under the Aquino administration were resumed along with a 150 day cease fire.
Three rounds of peace talks concluded with promises of a fourth round in February, when miscommunications between the negotiation panels and the forces on the ground ruptured the cease-fire. Duterte then pulled out of the peace talks, threatening at all out war and not returning unless he had a “compelling reason” to.
This past Feb. 18th I attended a Peace Consultation for the resumption of peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP held at a university downtown. It was heartening to see a large conference room overflowing with people representing all strata of Filipino society: lawyers, clergy, nuns, bishops, missionaries, community organizers, students, journalists, labor unions, farmers, indigenous peoples, former political prisoners, artists, writers, politicians, government officials and many more. Notably, it was very heartening to see negotiating panel members of both the NDFP and the GRP.
For four hours we discussed the progress made, the peace process so far and disappointment in the Duterte administration backing out of the peace process. We finished with a consultation on coming up with compelling reasons to resume the peace process. There were many. The one that made me perk up the most is when a participant stood up and said:
There are “16, 601, 997 compelling reasons for peace” representing each Filipino who voted for Duterte and his promise to bring peace and address the root causes of social injustice that plague the Philippines.
I think there are really more like 102,250,133+ compelling reasons for peace. Every Filipino deserves genuine peace based on social justice, human rights and dignity.
So Mr. President, instead of focusing so much on your War on Drugs and War on NDFP…Focus on Peace. 102,250,133+ Reasons for peace, the present and future of the Filipino people.