Editorial | Peace is a journey

WORKING for peace is perhaps a never ending quest way past our lifetime. It is a dream that burns in the hearts of many who have made it their life’s ‘reason for being.’ It is an uncertain journey that sometimes lead to a dead end and often requires a leap of faith to see beyond the abyss of despair and hopelessness. Such is the case of the peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said as much when he faced the United Nations General Assembly in New York on April 24, 2018.

The rigorous work done by both negotiating panels since 2016 have been viewed with much enthusiasm and support by peace advocates who believed that a negotiated peace could be possible under this administration. Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, in campaign speeches, has always stressed the need for peace before meaningful development can happen.

When the peace talks was cancelled on November 2017, many thought that all the gains of the past two years, the trust and understanding forged, were gone and might re-surface in the next administration, as it was in the past. There was reason to be hopeful again after the President asked the government peace panel to reach out to the NDFP again.

Peace Adviser Dureza, in his speech, talked about the importance inclusivity in working for peace, meaning the government should not only “attend to people who are triggers of conflict, or are involved in conflict.” He talked about the peace constituents who are being left out in the conversation, people who in fact suffer the brunt of the conflict.

The negotiating table ceases to be the only place where government can sit with the NDFP to thresh out solutions to the problem. Peace tables, initiated by peace stalwart Irene Santiago, are convened – spaces where people from all sectors sit together and talk about things close to their hearts

As Dureza said “agreements are only an initial step. They provide challenges even and it is how we are able to come up. And (it is in) these challenges that will bring us further towards sustainable peace.”

Posted in Opinion