Can peace be negotiated?

Utrecht-based Jose Ma. Sison declares those in the rebel movement will no longer negotiate peace with the government of the Republic of the Philippines and would rather work with anti-Duterte forces to help oust him from office then negotiate with them should they succeed.

President Duterte, for his part, welcomed Sison’s statement for it is the rebel movement’s prerogative to negotiate peace or not. And in jest he added it’ll not matter much if we extend the 50-year communist rebellion, the longest running in the world, if we add another 30 years to it if so desired by the rebels.

It is evident in both statements the exasperation of the two leaders about the turn of events that they view in different perspectives as derailing all efforts to end the communist rebellion. The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-led National Democratic Front and the GRP were set to continue the stalled peace negotiations last month.

The demand of Duterte to have the negotiations held in the country was opposed by the rebel negotiators where Sison sits as its senior adviser. Both exchanged unsavory statements against each other that GRP negotiator, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, likened to lovers’ petty spat.

Unill now, however, the prospects of the two panels going to the negotiating table again seemed farfetched. Duterte is not budging from his demand that negotiations be held in the Philippines.

Sison and company, however, are bent on insisting it must be held in a neutral country, which is by tradition the practice to eliminate any possibility, perceived or real, of advantage by the government over the belligerent group that desires to oust it.

As it stands now, the stalemate just proves that peace is indeed elusive, if not impossible, to be the subject of negotiation. Peace is an inherent gift of creation. It precedes creation itself for it already existed at the time of creation.

It is exhibited in the manner by which the entire galaxy moves in perfect precision. Just imagine a split of a second dysfunction in the rotation of the planets around the sun what havoc will it cause on the entire universe.

This is what is meant by peace. And in the societal context it means harmonious living between and among human beings anchored on justice.

When there are only about one percent of the world’s population controlling more than half of the world’s wealth, this is pure injustice. But this unjust situation can’t be overturned by simply employing force on the part of the aggrieved and presto a new world order founded on justice is born.

The longest running Philippine communist rebellion is not caused by the rebels’ romantic affair with armed struggle. No person in his right mind will ever put himself at risk by leaving behind his family and everything and go to the mountains to fight the status quo or the government in the hope of overthrowing it. There must be a compelling reason why they abandoned safety and comfort in exchange for the cause they are fighting for.

Admittedly, it is their hope the rebellion they are staging will turn the present unjust order to a just one. Of course, this is one dream worth pursuing. Its pursuit, however, is no mean feat. And in those countries where they succeeded, sadly, they are re-embracing the very unjust order that they were able to overthrow through their bloody rebellion.

Why the vicious cycle, if I may say so? Because human endeavor is shaped by that controversial original sin that marred the perfect creation of that God that Duterte described as stupid for making this happen. The story of the original sin is all about human greed. When Adam and Eve succumbed to the serpent’s temptation to eat the forbidden fruit they were not hungry but desiring to become like the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator.

For peace to reign in our land, the world order shaped by greed causing injustice to become the rule rather than the exception must be overturned. Should it be overturned through the use of force as espoused by the rebels? Or should the status quo be allowed to do everything under its power to prevent such order from being overturned?

In the periphery of this debate is the call for everyone to be a peacemaker. How? By not conforming to ways of this world that is shaped by greed.

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