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Don’t collapse talks, please!


(Statement of JESUS G. DUREZA, President/CEO of Advocacy Mindanow Foundation, Inc. He was former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and GRP Panel Spokesman in the Talks with CPP/NPA/NDF.)

I read statements coming from Malacanang saying the peace talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF had collapsed. This is a mistake.

This reminds me of what President Ramos told us years ago when our Philippine panel was in the Netherlands while meeting with the group of JOMA SISON and LOUIE JALANDONI. I was then Congress’ representative to the GRP panel and spokesman. It was   then headed by former Vatican Ambassador Howard Dee.   The positions of the two sides were so irreconcilable at that time that the Philippine team started packing up our bags to fly back home. We even had a shouting match across the table with the NDF.  Secretary Bebot Bello, then a panel member made a direct overseas call to President Ramos to report that the talks broke down and collapsed and that we were heading home.  Over the speakerphone, FVR angrily  barked: “Goddammit, who authorized you to collapse the talks? Go back to the table and continue to talk!” And so we did.

In the search for peace, government, which has the high moral ground,  must NEVER  give up or throw in the towel. The President of the Republic is the father of all, rebels included. Under the principle of  “pater familias”, he must get all  his flock, whether good or bad,  under his protective wings. He must balance things.  Of course  OPAPP officials can give the true and accurate status. But the “principal” who is the President must continue to provide hope and optimism. And not close doors.

Yes, we can SUSPEND  the talks, but never declare that it has collapsed. Otherwise, the alternative is heightened INSURGENCY. Or more conflict. 

Unfortunately, the plain ordinary and vulnerable citizens in the countryside will always be the first victims  caught in the crossfire.

My unsolicited advice: Keep on talking, however difficult or long it will take. Better  talk than  fight! Saliva doesn’t kill. Bullets do! -30-

By Jess Dureza

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