Peace treaty won’t solve problems but will be a good start – Deles

Manila, Feb. 16 – “A  political settlement, a peace treaty (is just) a beginning,” Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles on Tuesday emphasized during her statement at the opening of the formal negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Oslo, Norway.

The peace talks in Oslo, ongoing until February 21, is under the auspices of the Royal Norwegian Government, which has been acting as Third Party Facilitator since 2001.  Despite three reported “pre-ceasefire landmine attacks” recently staged by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Mindanao, as well as the arrest of communist leader Alan Jazmines by government forces on Monday, the peace talks pushed through as planned.

“Peace without justice, peace without development is a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal,” Deles said. “But a political settlement, a peace treaty, will be a beginning.”

Deles added that both parties have been guilty in the past of believing that arms will win the way.

However, although there may be a great gap between the two parties, “there is (still) much which unites us.”

A just society, the desire for national sovereignty, the wish to reverse the drain in human and natural resources, and the imperative of good governance are just among the common grounds that deepen the unity of both panels, added the peace adviser.

Finally, in her statement, Deles also said that among the challenges both parties will tackle during the closed-door negotiations is the building and strengthening of their peace constituencies.

“Our publics, our people – and not just our principals – must ache for peace so badly. They will turn the narrative of war into the narrative of peace,” she stated.

Deles added that the cost in lives and a stunted economy brought about by the decades-old conflict is incalculable.

“There are also more insidious costs: a deepening culture of violence that holds even young children in thrall; a culture of despair that breeds apathy and cynicism across generations; a polarized mindset that brooks no dissent, viewing the other as enemy; and descending into cut-throat hostilities that makes losers of us all,” she said.

There is a growing clamor among Filipinos of all classes and beliefs to stop the ongoing battles between the two parties, according to Deles.

“Our people are saying, the landscape of war must give way to the imperatives of peace,” she went on.

“It is this call to make of the entire country a zone of peace that gives us our mandate to come to the negotiating table once more. This and the attendant realization that the war cannot be won by force of arms on either side.”

Meanwhile, a civil society movement called “Manindigan para sa Peace Talks” (Stand Up for Peace Talks) was launched to show their stand on peace.

Composed of peace advocates, non-government organizations, and people’s organizations from across the country, the movement called on the public to be vigilant and to take a proactive stance in supporting the peace process in the country.

“The peace talks that flickered in the dark (in the past) is likely to glare in the Aquino administration who vowed to pursue peace talks with the NDFP.

The resumption of the peace process is a step forward towards finding a comprehensive solution to correct the problems that cause armed conflict,” said Sister Arnold Maria Noel, SSps of the Manindigan para sa Peace Talks. #

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