DAVAO CITY – A veteran government negotiator who is eyed to head the government peace panel believes that the peace talks with the National Democratic Front should have no timelines and deadlines.

Representative Silvestre Bello III, who presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte said would chair the government panel to negotiate with the NDF, agreed that “the nation is hungry for peace as the armed conflict between the Communist Party of the Philippines is dragging for four decades now.”

Although he has yet to receive a “formal offer” from Duterte, Bello said he would not decline the offer to head the negotiating panel of the government.

“The people is so hungry for peace and we cannot disappoint them. President Duterte is aware of this and I’m sure he wants peace at the earliest possible time,” Bello said.

However, Bello is not keen on putting timelines to peace negotiations.

“In peace negotiations, it is not advisable to put timelines. There should be no deadlines because the talks have its tactical and its strategic value, that is what’s important,” he said in a press conference here on Thursday night, May 19.

Bello said peace is not achieved by merely signing an agreement.

“The value of talks is while you are talking you are actually addressing the root causes of the armed conflict,” said Bello.

Bello said that Duterte might tell him to finish the peace talks within three to six months, similar to the target of the incoming President in curbing drugs, corruption and criminality in the country within six months of his term.

“He might tell me, ‘Bebot, finish the peace talks in three to six months ‘ or I might kill you,” Bello said.

However, he said that peace is only achieved when there is no more poor Filipino, no more corruption in government, and “when justice is made available to the people, especially the poor.”

He said the perception of the people currently is that the government cannot give them justice.

“The judicial system is so perverted that’s why the people know that there is no justice in this government,” he said.

“So if President Duterte can show to the people that there can be justice under his term, under the new administration, then we’ll have peace in our country,” said Bello.

‘Obstructionists in government’

Bello also revealed that there were “obstructionists” in the previous administrations in the talks with the NDF resulting to a stalled peace talks with the region’s longest-running insurgency.

He said President Benigno Aquino III was “obviously advised by some people who do not want to have a peace talks with the NDF.” Bello, however, refused to name who he was referring to.

“These are the obstructionist. They did not want government to have a peace settlement with the NDF, t
hat’s why they pointed Pres. Aquino to the MILF, where they concentrated, and they forgot the other problem,” he said.

“That’s very simple, you cannot afford a partial peace in our country,” he added, saying the government cannot dismiss the four decade-long insurgency problem.

Even during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo there were those “who intended to stop the peace process with the NDF.”

Lessons from the past

Bello believes that for the peace talks to prosper, it is important that the President wants the peace process.

He said he is confident with the resumption of the peace talks with the NDF because “Pres. Duterte understands the peace process and more importantly wants the peace process.”

“The will to achieve peace is very important,” he said.

Bello said, achieving an agreement is very difficult, but there must be the political will to finish the peace talks.

He also added that the government should be sincere to address the root causes of the armed conflict, including extreme poverty of the people, injustice and corruption.

During Bello’s stint as chairman of the government panel under former President Fidel Ramos, the government and the NDF signed the first substantive agreement which is the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. (davaotoday.com)

comments powered by Disqus