Press Statement | Letter to the Editor
By Edre U. Olalia
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
9 February 2017
The advances & gains reached so far, as well as the on & off the table understandings & commitments in the peace negotiations, despite divergences in positions, difficulties & contradictions, & the crucial outstanding issues that may still be resolved anyway over time with mutual determination and principled negotiations, must be made known widely.
My naive view is that the Parties through their negotiators have hitherto by and large demonstrated in varying degrees, and with distinct motivations, their readiness and willingness to discuss & negotiate the substantive agenda, & shown certain flexibility to meet along the way & accept convergences even as they can remain firm yet not obstinate on certain issues or matters.
We must read carefully and closely the Joint Statements in Oslo & Rome & find out for ourselves these gains & advances & how fast & close the Parties have gone to endeavor a mutually acceptable & honorable agreement in the short & long term.
Then after a studied evaluation, we can appreciate all these and realize there is so much to gain in continuing the momentum rather than squandering what has been reached so far.
Also, we must listen intently with an open mind to all other sources of information and insights rather than rely solely on either incomplete, inaccurate or selective information that fit a pre-designed militarist solution or response to the roots of the armed conflict or to the reasons why a significant number of our countrymen continue to bear arms in arduous struggle to bring fundamental changes in society.
There is a need not only to keep on talking but also the need to keep on listening.
Further, everyone should eventually realize that honoring commitments, fulfilling pledges & respecting solemn & binding bilateral agreements is the most principled gesture of good faith & enduring trust necessary to continue negotiating with sincerity despite differences.
Finally & most importantly, identifying, addressing. & resolving the roots of the armed conflict and their manifestations — continuing and vicious stark penury, massive injustice , widespread landlessness, chronic maldevelopment, deprivation of basic human needs & social services, asphyxiating foreign intervention & control, unscrupulous greed for self-serving power, unmitigated exploitation & oppression of the few by the many — are more than compelling reasons to come back to the negotiating table.
Resuming the peace talks without the indispensable requisite of safety & immunity guarantees as a matter of fair play for those who stuck out their necks, and without complying with solemn & binding bilateral agreements & commitments will make the resumption of the talks extremely difficult & impracticable, if not impossible, though.
Keep on talking even when there is fighting. But keep on listening as well. #