LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
I am writing on behalf of 15 million Filipinos, 10 years and older, who have thus far responded to the Yes for Peace-Bayanihan ng Bayan campaign to get the Filipino people onto centerstage of the comprehensive peace process here in the Philippines.
At the 1056th meeting of the Board of Regents of the University of the Philippines System held on Dec. 17, 1992, a resolution “Declaring all UP campuses a zone of peace, freedom and neutrality” was adopted.
The resolution resolved “that UP shall offer its campus as a possible venue for open and multilateral peace talks between the government and all armed revolutionary groups, and serve as mediating institution in peace talks…”
It also recognized and supported the “Di-Yes for Peace campaign and all its objectives, both within the university and nationwide.”
The nationwide campaign ensued in 1995 when the Department of Education, Culture and Sports incorporated the Di-Yes for Peace campaign into its peace education program pursuant to the United Nations’ declaration of the Decade of Peace and Education for All.
The Board of Directors of the Philippine Postal Corp. (PhilPost) adopted the campaign as its contribution to the comprehensive peace process. From then on, Di-Yes for Peace campaign materials to and responses from public and private elementary and high school students were categorized as Official Business of the Office of the Postmaster General.
In 1996, it was listed as a strategy to address insurgency – “Establish the framework for peace negotiations through the national implementation of the Di-Yes for Peace-Bayanihan para sa Kapayapaan Campaign” – in the 5-Year Master Plan of Action for Peace and Order (1997-2001).
Albeit silent and kept from the general public, the government of the Philippines and the Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabayan-Soldiers of the Filipino People-Young Officers Union concluded their negotiations at the UP College of Law.
Likewise, the final technical work and consultations for the Final Peace Agreement between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front were held in UP Diliman after the MILF Central Committee publicly agreed to the Yes for Peace proposal that peace negotiations be held in the Philippines with Filipinos as third-party facilitators instead of abroad with foreign third-party facilitators.
Unfortunately, the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) stands fast and hard in its position that peace talks be held in the Netherlands with foreign third-party facilitators. This is the exact opposite of the Philippine government’s working premise, “the successful realization of peace demands a wholistic approach that will require the combined and integrated efforts of the civilian government, the military and the citizenry as a whole,” as far back as 1987.
And yet, the government has, for more than three decades, caved in to the demands of the CPP-NPA-NDF until President Duterte put his foot down and insisted that it be held here in the Philippines.
To force the government to resume the peace talks, the NPA stepped up attacks on government forces and civilians, upon publicly broadcasted orders of Jose Maria Sison on one hand and the noisy clamor of a few for its resumption only God knows where.
The government is open to the conduct of localized peace talks that will involve the communities to ensure that all agreements will be acceptable to all concerned and are really for the benefit of the people and not only for the self-interests of those who have taken up arms to violently overthrow the government. This will give the armed communists space to negotiate their way back to the mainstream of Philippine society without surrendering and losing face.
Is it within Dutch laws to shelter leaders of an organization that the European Union has declared as a terrorist group from the waves of alleged crimes committed against the poor and powerless people whose rights they claim to be fighting for, against a government that they claim to be a gross violator of human rights?
What will it take to convince the Netherlands to cancel the asylum it granted to Jose Maria Sison and his cohorts and set them free to find shelter elsewhere? – Ernesto Angeles Alcanzare, Yes for Peace, firstname.lastname@example.org