As expected, the peace negotiations between the government and the communist rebels have started to roll after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered one of his top lieutenants, Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III to discuss with the National Democratic Front (NDF) the possibility of resuming the talks.
Immediately after the move of the President, the two sides both came up with a declaration for a ceasefire which is set to end today.
However, also as expected, both sides have been throwing accusations at each other for violating their declaration of ceasefire even when each of them, unilaterally, made the declaration. It would have been better to ignore the allegations had these been without actions. But, based on reports, both sides have not only been posturing through words, but have been taking up actions to the effect that even resulted in casualties.
With these actions taking place, the obvious result is that the ones who are helpless are suffering.
If both sides are sincere and determined to continue with the talks, they must leash their armed regulars so that confidence-building measures can be taken up.
Of course, armed groups usually negotiate on the position of strength as well as portray the other as the abuser; but taking into account how fragile the talks are, it is high time for both of them to restrain themselves and continue to find a common ground to resolve the conflict.
After all, if the main intention is to protect the people as well as ensure that peace will rule, the use of arms as well as provocative words will result in the opposite. Negotiating while unleashing their respective soldiers will never lead to taking the first step towards a common goal.