Best venue for peace talks


CAN peace talks not succeed if it is held in the Philippines?

In much the same breadth, can peace talks succeed if it is held somewhere outside the country, say Oslo, Norway?

These two almost identical questions seem to be the leading concern now that another round of peace talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NDFP-NPA) is well in the offing.

If the government can have its way-–and it must insist on its preference–there is no better place to hold peace talks with the rebels than in our country.

There simply is no reason at all for the Philippine government peace negotiators to travel several thousands of miles–-at least after several failures-–to parley with homegrown rebels and their leaders who issue directives and combat strategies abroad.

The NPA leaders and their supporters might invoke security risks in insisting to have the peace talks held somewhere outside the country, but that is something that cannot be ensured either if it is held in, say Oslo, Norway.

As Oslo may have been noted for being a peace venue, however, not every peace accord signed there bore fruition. In fact, not long after the last peace accord concluded and signed between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in Oslo in 1993, the peace deal hit a snag, with the Israelis and the Palestinians resuming their skirmishes.

Let’s not waste time over this nonsense debate on where to hold peace talks.

The government should not agree to hold the discussion with the NDF and NPA cadres in faraway Oslo as if it is getting the dictate from a victor.
It should be seriously considered too that a lull during the time, when the peace accord is being ironed out, might serve as bait for rebels to go to hinterland and continue their recruitment from barangay to barangay.

The ‘pause’ would be an opportune time for the rebels to move around and collect progressive taxes. Rebels after all do not recognize rules.

The expected ‘breather’ could be a perfect time, too, for the rebels to strike when least expected, leaving our outposts and peaceful communities in ashes and ruins.

These are some of the possibilities that must be threshed out before the peace process takes place.

Let’s just hope that the two contending parties, most especially the side of rebels who have been waging this ‘uncivil’ war for decades, to arrive at win-win deal, which will give everybody a taste of peace — lasting peace at that – from now on.

p: wjg