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Peace tosh!



“It’s like a marriage gone sour, where each party believes it is right, and where neither one is willing to give an inch to reach a compromise.”

How can government and the leftist groups reach a peace agreement when each party appears to have low to zero confidence in the other’s trustworthiness?

Five presidents since the start of the peace negotiations under the presidency of Corazon Aquino, the air remains as hazy as ever around this on-again, off-again relationship.

Negotiations that transpired under the different administrations had yielded few developments toward achieving a truce, but not enough to give us something to hold on to.

The problem runs deep — so deep that those of us who have other problems to consider possibly dismiss the entire issue as drama, one of those perennial headaches that can never be treated…a cancer sore made worse by cantankerous people.

Most people in the Philippines, I bet, have no idea how important it is to work this thing out.

It’s like a marriage gone sour, where each party believes it is right, and where neither one is willing to give an inch to reach a compromise.

Consider that under President Rody Duterte, the communist party had been quite positive about these talks compared with its diffident stance under Noynoy Aquino.

Mong Palatino, an activist and former legislator, in 2016 wrote in “There is high optimism that the peace talks will prosper under the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte who has maintained close links with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and New People’s Army (NPA) in his capacity as mayor of Davao City. Duterte is also openly identifying himself as a socialist and Leftist. He has vowed to release political prisoners and resume the peace talks. He also guaranteed a safe pass to Joma Sison, his political science professor in college, so that the rebel leader can go home and pursue the implementation of the peace process in the Philippines.

Duterte is also praised for appointing Leftist personalities in his Cabinet. That the Communist Party has nominees working in the Cabinet is unprecedented in Philippine history.”

That sentiment cleared the air somewhat to make the Oslo talks happen.

But, as usual, some snags and a few bullets made the talks go a little sour again, and here we are, watching the ping-pong game between government and the left as they decide where to hold the resumption of peace talks.

President Duterte canceled the formal talks in Oslo, Norway, which is scheduled for June 28. This was the date agreed upon by government and NDFP negotiators in a series of back-channel talks, news reports say.

Joma Sison, NDFP chief political consultant, had immediately expressed his doubts on the suggestion that the talks be held in the Philippines, calling it “the end of peace negotiations.”

He said if Duterte will dictate the venue, it does not assure them that they will not be at risk from what he called Duterte’s “military brutes.”

A particularly stinging comment Joma also made was that they do not negotiate under the terms and conditions “of an emergent fascist dictatorship and in a place where mass murders are occurring with impunity,” said Sison, chief political consultant to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the CPP’s political arm that is negotiating with the government.

A neutral venue, he added, would work, as agreed upon by both parties in the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) they signed in 1995.

The Jasig assures consultants and staff of the NDFP who are part of the negotiating team of immunity from arrest and detention as well as other safety guarantees.

Past experiences since 1986 such as broken ceasefires contribute to this wall of doubt that exists between government and rebels.

That, and the wasted time in between, riddled with violence and animosity, has made this whole mess too difficult to negotiate.

It’s too bad, though, because what the reds want — end to poverty, land ownership and all that lofty shebang — the government also wants. What is the problem then, you ask.

Hashtag “It’s complicated” does not begin to describe it.