THERE'S gloom and a little bit of uncertainty among Mindanaoans and a lot of frustration from President Rodrigo Duterte as first the New People's Army (NPA) terminated its unilateral ceasefire with President Duterte following suit.
"[War], it will not end. Fine. But let it not be said that I did not try. So I guess that peace with the communists cannot be realized during our generation many years from now," the President said in a speech delivered on Friday.
Out there, on television, where news readers and urban reporters rule, sabers are being rattled. There is going to be war! The Mindanaoans wince.
What is it with war that put testosterones where the brain should be, we wonder. Tired of war, tired of conflict, we hold on.
Out there, their hairs already turned white, many dyed black, their ideals only known to those who love reading among the clueless millennials while the rest of the young ones cannot even comprehend the romanticism about Ferdinand E. Marcos from the horrors of the past, the rebel leaders negotiate with a tough hand, insisting that the present make recompense for the past long gone and that laws be bent to accommodate their wants.
Down here we wonder... do those who wield the gun in the forestlands of Compostela even know the old men or are these same people romanticized like Ferdinand Marcos to the loyalists? Is this even a fight for ideals or is this just a fight to maintain a status quo, because for five decades now, a non-combatant life seems unimaginable?
Questions unanswered, even unanswerable, as peace is but a word that can be spoken even without sincerity.
I have to give it to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza for refusing to take on a warrior's stance.
"Despite these, however, we are still hopeful that the search for peace will continue and the tragedy of Filipinos fighting fellow Filipinos will come to an early end," Dureza said with regards the termination by the NPA because of what is happening on the ground.
"As we always stress, the road to peace is not easy to traverse. What is important is that we all stay the course," he added.
When it was the turn of the President to terminate the ceasefire on the government side, Dureza still refused to call for war.
"President has spoken. He cancelled the government unilateral ceasefire. He gave his reasons. He makes the judgment call. And we all submit. And it's too early yet to speculate its implications on the peace process. Let's just watch how it rolls out," he said.
Indeed, unilateral ceasefires can no longer sustain peace, there has to be a bilateral ceasefire, an agreement that both parties sign complete with guidelines on what has to be done to sustain the peace and what can be done if somebody breaks the protocol laid out. As Dureza said, let's just watch how it rolls out.
On our part the best we can do is to continue communicating peace beyond just flashing a sign. The past half a century has proven that nothing can ever come out of this war. The past half a century of "un-peace" has shown that the generations that distrust was planted cannot be erased by simply seeing old men sitting down across a negotiating table.
Peace has to be planted in place of the distrust and conflict nurtured through the years, and it has to be planted fast -- by the way we speak, by what we report, by what we read and listen to, by how we regard another.
Thus, we call on the eager-beavers out there, the urbanite-reporters imagining themselves to be war correspondents soon: No one ever wins in a war, especially when it's a war against our own. We have all the curses phrased against you, we've been muttering them as we watched and read the news. But we would rather hold our peace because, we, who have known war, know how valuable peace is and we will not just give it up to feed another person's ego like yours.