By Francis Wakefield
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus G. Dureza expressed optimism that the peace process will move forward this year through other means despite the setback in talks with the communist rebels.
In a recent television interview, the presidential peace adviser reiterated that the peace process doesn’t end with peace negotiations with rebel groups as “there are many other paths to peace.”
“The work of OPAPP is to look for ways and means to move the peace process forward,” Dureza said.
“You have to deal with a culture of peace in the communities. You have to work for social healing of broken relationships because of conflict. You have to take care of victims of conflict. There are many ways,” he added.
Durezs said OPAPP has been actively pursuing a sustainable and lasting peace through its “Six Paths to Peace” that comprised the comprehensive peace process: 1) Pursuit of social, economic and political reforms; 2) Consensus-building and empowerment for peace; 3) Peaceful negotiated settlement with different rebel groups; 4) Programs for reconciliation, reintegration into mainstream society and rehabilitation; 5) Addressing concerns arising from continuing armed hostilities; 6) Building and nurturing a climate conducive to peace.
While Dureza confirmed that there are no backchannel talks going on the with Communist Party of the Philippines – National People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), he welcomed the public reading that the omission of NDF as a terrorist group is an indication that there is still hope for the resumption of talks.
“If that is the reading of the public, then we can affirm that the doors have not been totally shut. But we have to take the clear directive from the President right now,” Dureza said.
From 2016, there have been four rounds of talks between the government and the CPP-NPA- NDF, resulting in numerous agreements such as the unilateral ceasefire from August to December 2016 and the supplemental guidelines for the joint monitoring committee for the observance of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.