Velez: Ways to peace

Tyrone Velez

HOW does one achieve peace with the Reds?

President Duterte has once again opened the window for "one last chance" in 60 days for his peace panel to work out with the National Democratic Front to resume the talks.

But Davao City Mayor Inday Sara, daughter of the President, thinks this is a waste of time.

The mayor put out her contrary position last week, casting the NDF as "terrorists" with no intention to pursue peace. She cites few incidents such as the burning of equipment, and the deaths of civilians during the offensives launched last year by the New People's Army.

For the mayor, the recourse is "to deal with them the way we should -- tough, strong, high intensity, and one that gathers all sectors to completely crush their influence in communities where they are present."

This comes from a mayor, who a year ago proposed to hold local peace talks after the president suspended the talks.

But her statement would not sway Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, who said that while he respects the mayor's view, he still he has to work with president's directive to continue with the talks.

"We cannot end the problem of insurgency just by fighting). We need to address the root causes,” Dureza said in an earlier interview. "There is really an intention of both sides to put an end to this problem, this tragedy of Filipinos killing fellow Filipinos. I'm confident that both sides will grab the last chance to work toward a final settlement."

The peace adviser's words come with his experience negotiating peace with both the Reds and the Muslim liberation movements. There are issues that may derail peace he says, but it is important to stay on tract.

Adding weight to this call is Cagayan de Oro Bishop Felixberto Calang, IFI, an observer of the peace talks in recent years. He has seen how both panels work out the problems on the talks. Side talks are set on issues such as the ceasefire and the human rights violations, but the main agenda on the table is to address the root conflict by working out the socio-economic reform agenda such as nationalizing agriculture and other industries.

"How could the NDFP publish a proposal (on socio-economic reforms) if they are not indeed true to their words?" the Bishop said in reaction to the mayor's statement. The bishop believes that some sectors in government outside the panel are pushing for the abandonment of the talks.

Bishop Calang also invites Mayor Sara to join in the process of the talks. "I would like to humbly ask the mayor to pay attention to the peace negotiations,” said Calang.

We see here a contrast of points. One wants to bomb its way into peace, the other wants peace to be forged through unity, by working things "peace by piece".

Which way is the best way towards healing our land? History has shown how things are achieved through handshakes and healing.