*Â JoMa Sison aims at nine months;Â Muslim leaders also bullish on peace
(MANILA)– Newly appointed Peace Process Adviser (Cabinet rank) Atty. Jesus Â Â “Jess” Dureza, deemed the closest friend and classmate of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte says “we are working atÂ peace in a time line of 12 months.”
“In our Oslo, Norway preliminary talks, founding CPP Chairman (Communist Party of the Philippines) Jose Ma Sison even wanted to end the 47-old Red insurgency movement in less time -nine months.” The protracted internal warfare has caused so much bloodshed on both sides.
The growth of the Red rebel movement, if one recalls, escalated during the repressive regime of president Ferdinand Marcos.
Together with Dureza in Oslo, Norway was Chief Negotiator Silvestre Bello Jr.
“There are about 500 considered to be political prisoners in the nation. The first 100 of them who will be identified by Sison for the negotiations- will be freed immediately to participate.,” Dureza clarified as he spoke toÂ TheÂ Chronicle Â Â at the sidelines of the 20th National Press Forum of the PPI (Philippine Press Institute) Â last Thursday night at the Century Park Hotel.
In accepting the Cabinet post, Dureza also relinquished his three-year as a well-liked chairman of the PPI. The late founder of this paper Atty. Zoilo Dejaresco Jr. was also once a PPI chair replacing Don Chino Roces after the latter’s Â demise. Â –
EXSAM LLOREN CASE/IMPORTANCE OF PEACEÂ
TheÂ ChronicleÂ Â also disclosed to Dureza the circumstances surrounding the arrest and the incarceration of former Jagna Mayor Exuperio “Exsam” LLoren who is now allegedly inside a tiny cell in Manila City Hall and no longer at Camp Aguinaldo -where he was jailed after being arrested in his Jagna home in June of last year in the presence of his wife, NGO leader and former rebel Nimfa C Abaya.
Dureza personally wrote notes on Llloren’s case in his cellphone.
More than 20 years after, Lloren was charged with the allegedÂ “murder” of 15 rebels in a “purge” in Inopacan Leyte in the 1980’s.Â Llloren was charged together with Jose Ma Sison and Satur de Ocampo, among others.
“Political prisoners are those incarcerated for violations in furtherance of their political beliefs”, Dureza explained.
Peace and order has been identified by the incoming Duterte administration as essential for the progress of the country- causing it to zero in on as No. 1 priorities- drug menace and criminality. As well as graft and corruption which presents a “different kind of disorder”.
Although a relatively difficult job, Dureza said his best friend Duterte did not “expect me to say no to the appointment. I would have preferred a more laid-back ambassadorial job. Who knows after one year of this process?”
The former congressman of Davao ( 1987-1989) Â and (1992-1995) would have left Â behind a lasting legacy if the Red insurgency movement ceases to exist in one year or less- after years of war of attrition.
PEACE WITHÂ THE MUSLIMS
The other halo of the Peace Process is the healing of the bloody rift with our Â Muslim brother in battle-torn Mindanao and the Muslim leaders there hail Dureza’s appointment as Chair of the process as he is a Mindanaoan, who understands the fraternal conflict Â in the south.
Reelected governor of the ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao) Hajiv Hataman Â quoted “We here are glad that Duterte tapped Dureza as peace negotiator”.
The same sentiment was aired by elected Maguindanao governor Esmael Magundadatu whose area was the site of the worst mass murder in the nation’s political history in the Massacre of Maguindanao allegedly by the Ampatuan group.
Even rebel leader Nur Misuari of the MNLF said “We want peace. We want Duterte; if you do not want Duterte – then bring Dureza in”- highlighting the width of the reputation Dureza has in Mindanao when it comes to negotiating peace with fighting factions.
EXPERIENCEDÂ PEACE NEGOTIATOR
Many observers consider the choice of Jess Dureza for the peace process as a “perfect choice”. After all, he has worked with three presidents- in handling peace negotiations internally and externally.
Dureza was first Presidential Spokesperson (1999-2000) under President Fidel V Ramos before he was made in charge of the Peace Process with the MNLF. In President Estrada’s wake- Dureza was Press Secretary (2008-2009).
During the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo- Jess was National Program Director of the United Nations Development Program UN_ACT for Peace Program (2006-2010) while currently serving as Chairperson of the Mindanao Development Authority Â (2009-2010).
ACADEMIC ANDÂ JOURNALISMÂ COMPETENCE
Jesus Dureza placed 10th in the 1973 Bar and later taught at the Ateneo de Davao University where he Â earlier finished his AB degree, cum laude. He also practiced his law with partners.
A true blue journalist, Dureza was editor of the Mindanao Times (1972-1987) -or fifteen years and was once Correspondent of The Manila Times and The Manila Bulletin.
Dureza , who knows Dutere, from inside out compared to most people- asked the public to give the president elect a chance. He said the controversial remarks of Duterte are just “hyperbole” and he will show his true mettle when he sits as president, observant of the law.
Both Duterte and Dureza are lawyers.
“Change is indeed coming”. And lasting peace- with the Reds and the Muslims- now loom strongly as a possibility with the entry of peace negotiator par excellance â€“ Atty. Jess Dureza.