‘Peace talks’ and empty promises
INTROSPECTIVE - Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - July 9, 2017 - 4:00pm

I can’t understand why the president has once again agreed to sit down for “peace talks” with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). This marks the fifth time that the president has been open to talking and yet in all this time nothing has been done. It’s quite frustrating because they are continuing with their extortion and attacks and it just seems like we can’t do anything about it. We keep giving them a “seat at the table” so-to-speak and yet they haven’t made any show of good faith that they will actually live up to their end of the bargain.

Honestly, when this began I understood where the president was coming from. After all, I am all for talking and working it out instead of fighting. Unfortunately it just seems like they constantly yank his chain and never actually do what they say. How much longer is the government supposed to wait for the CPP to come around and live up to their end? They have no qualms asking for everything but the kitchen sink but they refuse to give up anything. I think that alone should already send a message loud and clear.

I can feel President Duterte’s frustration. After all, prior to his taking office he had been very vocal about coming to terms with the communists and being able to negotiate a win-win situation for everyone. It seems that now that the time has come he can’t make any headway. It must be like banging his head on the wall. Curiously enough, we have to ask how much longer he will agree to this back and forth that hasn’t amounted to anything?

I thought that the last time the talks fell through the president had had enough. I still remember he had angrily ordered his men to come home because they could not reach an agreement with the rebels. What has changed since then that has made him want to revisit talks again? Does he believe that this time around will be any different? Seems to me that they will continue to ask for everything they want without being willing to give anything substantial in return. After all, lets face it, that’s how they operate – fear and attacks and terror are their weapons to bend the government to their will so why would they ever agree to anything less than their initial demands? It just seems like an exercise in futility if you ask me.

And I am not the only one who thinks so. Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday that he also believes the government should stop talks with the communist rebels if they refuse to stop attacking state security forces. And he makes a good point. After all, what is the point of talking about peace when they continue with their rampage in the countryside extorting and kidnapping? At this point a show of good faith (and more) is necessary to bring everyone to the table again.

In the end, I am all for peace but we have to set a limit to the price we are willing to pay for it. We can’t just give in because we are enamored with the idea of a “peace” and a “ceasefire.” They have already gone back on their word more than once. The president has to enter into any new set of discussions with eyes wide open and make some demands of his own. In this way, maybe they will take the process more seriously and actually start some real change.

*      *      *

In some good news, on the other hand, the Department of Agriculture has recently announced it has launched a P200M loan program in its bid to provide affordable credit to farmers and fisherman in the country. This great program, the brainchild of the Secretary of Agriculture, is a very good effort and one deserving of our support. The program will target the poorest regions and communities and allow farmers and fisherman the chance to avail of loans and financial services without the stringent requirements of most financial institutions.

I have always said that I believe we need to invest in our agriculture industry and I’m very happy to see that this program is a step in the right direction. We need to realize that despite technology booming at an incredible rate our farmers and fisherman still feed us. At the current rate they are going the agriculture sector is deteriorating and they are losing the younger generation. I saw a billboard that appropriately stated that the average age of farmers in the country now is roughly over 50 years old. The ad went on to ask “Who will feed us in the next ten years?”

That’s a scary but very important thought. So many traditional professions like farming and fishing are being left behind and those in the field are getting older and older. It is important to breathe new life into the agriculture industry and make sure that it has a future or the future of everyone will be quite grim indeed.

*      *      *

I’m glad that the Anti-Distracted Driving Law is now in full effect. Despite the need for clarifications I have always been in favor of this law because I feel drivers should not be distracted or have their focus split when behind the wheel. We must admit that it’s a big and legitimate problem when mobile use behind the wheel has resulted in as many accidents as drunk driving. The time has come to hold people responsible for their actions.

Now, drivers must be very careful behind the wheel or face a hefty fine (somewhere from P5,000 for the first offense and above) or having their license revoked. It may seem harsh but it is important to truly get the message across. In time I believe we’ll all adjust and it will become a normal road rule much like wearing seatbelts. I remember when the seatbelt law was implemented, people also reacted badly but it was only a matter of time before they started following. Hopefully the same holds true for this.

Now honestly, if only there was something that could be done about the horrendous traffic too! I truly believe people would be less tempted to spend so much time on their phones if they weren’t stuck on the road for hours on end.

 

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