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).
n 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? Published 4/5/2017