Editorial: Talking peace-A A +A
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
DAVAO City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte has once again called for the revival of peace talks between government and the communist rebels as he mourns the death of policemen and rebels alike in recent gunbattles in the hinterland Baracatan in Toril District.
Having been the mayor for 23 years, he knows that all those claims by the military that this and that region will soon be cleared of the New People's Army (NPA) is as elusive as the leftist's belief that they will soon reach the strategic stalemate as the time is all ripe to push up from the present strategic defensive phase. This has been said during the last years of the dictatorship of President Ferdinand E. Marcos. That was five presidents ago, including the shortened Joseph Estrada presidency and the extended Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration.
"No general was able to wipe out the NPAs. Wala talagang local government official na ma-control nila yung fighting sa lugar nila," the mayor said.
"But ako, I am promoting peace... maybe in my younger years, I would have opted something violent but now matanda na ako, I see the fatality of this fight. We've lost so many thousands of Filipino lives and yet after 45 years it is still with us," he added.
What hits the mayor most is the number of deaths that just keep on piling up year after year for almost half a century now.
"What makes me sad really is every time na naay sundalo ug pulis na mamatay ug every time na naay NPA na Pilipino mamatay. It breaks my heart because this problem of ours has been with us for 45 years. Being mayor for 23 years, ginawa ko na ang lahat. Wala talaga tayong choice except to talk," Duterte said in his television program "Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa" last Sunday.
"You NPAs, you kill about five soldiers, and sometimes you lose about seven or eight in one encounter. Pati military, police, pati tayo. Are we happy with this kind of events in our lives? Do we find satisfaction? Year in, year out, araw-araw, hindi naman talaga ito natatapos," he said.
Indeed, it has been a never-ending war with soldiers dying every year enough to earn yet another general a promotion but nothing else. On the other side, rebels too are dying every year, enough to earn yet another general a promotion and nothing else. In between, the poor hinterland residents who are often caught in the crossfire and are often accused of supporting either the NPA or the soldiers depending on who is accusing them, die as well. Again, with no one benefiting among them and their kin.
Nothing is really being sown but enmity among and between the contending parties and those who get trapped in the crossfire. No one among the foot soldiers and innocent bystanders benefit. Much like the blood being spilled in the Gaza Strip. No one benefits except those who ordered the bombs to be fired.
Indeed, it is better to keep on talking for a century than to declare war even for a day. The war has been waged for 45 years now, and no one is actually gaining any grounds. Even the generals who have earned a star or two because of these have been retiring one by one. The lesson here is to simply insist on sitting down and talk, and let no stimulus to leave and fire a bullet stop that resolve to sit down and talk. It's difficult, but that is the only way to peace. No real peace is ever won by the barrel of a gun.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 16, 2014.