If there’s anything we learned since 1992, it’s that the road to peace will always be long and arduous.
With both the GRP and NDFP lifting their respective unilateral ceasefire declarations, the people continue to call on both parties to persevere in peace negotiations on substantive issues such as socio-economic reforms as well as political and constitutional reforms.
Both parties are within their rights to terminate their respective ceasefire declarations. The ceasefire however is not the entirety of the peace talks. Peace talks in the past have been conducted even without a prolonged ceasefire declaration. Signed agreements were forged and the talks moved forward. Talking while fighting is better than not talking at all.
It is clear by now that the AFP is a major stumbling block to peace as it insists on conducting military operations in communities, disguised as “peace and development” operations. The AFP is poised to unleash more fascist attacks with the lifting of the government’s unilateral ceasefire.
Is there still a chance for a return to ceasefire mode? Yes there is, if the conditions are favorable. This means fulfilling the commitment to release all political prisoners and the demilitarization of communities. There is a scheduled meeting between the two parties on February 22 in the Netherlands to discuss a bilateral ceasefire.
The President should realize that his most important base of support should be the people, not the military. The AFP should not be able to dictate the terms of the peace negotiations, including the release of poltical prisoners. The President must listen to the clamor of the people, not the generals.
To our friends who are Duterte supporters, we ask you to help in calling on both parties to persevere in peace negotiations and oppose on principled grounds, those officials who are out to undermine the talks. We urge you to support negotiations on socio-economic as well as talks on political reforms, which now includes Federalism and safeguards against fascist dictatorship and foreign intervention.
We all have a stake in the success of the talks. That the talks are becoming difficult should not be a surprise anymore. It’s but the reflection of the complex and intense class struggle and the competing interests which form the basis of the armed conflict. Hindi simple and batayan ng digmaaan, kaya’t hindi rin simple, bagkus ay masalimuot, ang resolusyon nito; kahit sa peace negotiations. Magpapatuloy ang pagkamit ng makatarungang kapayapaan, kahit sa labas ng peace talks. Malawak ang mga larangan nito.
Kaya mga kaibigan, kapit lang. Laban lang.