Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Jesus Dureza (right) and National Democratic Front (NDF) Chief Political
Consultant Jose Maria Sison exchange copies of the Agreement on an
Interim Joint Ceasefire that was signed April 5 in Noordwijk, The
Netherlands. (Credits: Rocky Nazareno | Manila Bulletin).
April 5, 2017, the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP)
and the National Democratic Front (NDF) signed an interim agreement that
could eventually lead to a cessation of hostilities between the
Communist rebel group and the Philippine Army.
This interim agreement
has been 31 years in the making. Starting with former President Cory
Aquino in 1986 and spanning the administrations of six Philippine
presidents (including that of President Duterte), the Agreement on an
Interim Joint Ceasefire (AIJC) lays the groundwork for continuation of
talks and the implementation of guidelines for a peace accord between
the government and NDF.
Although there is no
actual ceasefire in place, and real peace still appears far off in the
horizon, the AJIC is nevertheless being hailed as a concrete first step
in the rapprochement process.
If President Rodrigo
Duterte and his team, headed by Presidential Adviser on the Peace
Process Jesus Dureza, can pull it off, it will be a feather on his cap.
And not only will there finally be peace in the countryside with the end
of the decades-long armed rebellion, there will also be a “peace
dividend” that would benefit all Filipinos. The billions of pesos
lost—not to mention the thousands of Filipino soldiers killed—in the
fight against the communist rebels, can instead be used to help the
country’s most needy.
The question however is:
will Duterte’s GRP and the NDF led by its founder Jose Maria Sison be
able to waltz through their landmine-laden dance floor without blowing
themselves up in the process remains to be seen. There have been
numerous rapprochements in the past, yet the rebellion continues. Maybe
this one will finally work. What do you think?