The Peace Process: Clarifying Issues, Explaining Concepts
CHEERS TO the People’s Alternative Media Network (Altermidya) and Manila Today for publishing articles that help explain the ongoing peace talks between the government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Altermidya published on Aug. 25 an alphabetical list of issues related to the peace process(“Want peace but can’t understand the talk? Here is the essential A-Z”). The list attempts to make the public understand the peace talks and included such items as the 1992 Hague Joint Declaration, which sets the framework of the GRP-NDFP negotiations, and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig), which guarantees the immunity of peace consultants and negotiators from harassment and detention. It also explained the meaning of a truce and a cease-fire and tackled as well the release of political prisoners.
Manila Today ran an article on Aug. 16 discussing the background of the ongoing civil war between the government and the armed left (“On today’s talks of peace talks, ceasefires and landmines”). It also discussed the sensitive issue of landmines after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to halt peace negotiations if the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, continues to use landmines. Duterte claimed that landmines are banned under the Geneva Convention. Manila Today clarified that under the Geneva Convention and the Ottawa Convention, only anti-personnel and victim-detonated mines are prohibited to avoid civilian casualties in conflict areas. Command-detonated mines used by the NPA are permitted under the said international conventions.
Such initiatives from the alternative media to bring peace issues closer to the public by explaining significant issues and concepts help in promoting a better understanding of the peace process, instead of merely highlighting conflict.
As the formal talks proceed, the mainstream media should follow suit.