1 Common Spokesperson for GPH-MILF Talks

The Tokyo Meeting between President Aquino and MILF Chairman Murad signals a new relationship between the Government and the MILF – a new relationship that is characterized as “not of adversaries  but partners in problem-solving”. This new relationship must now transform how the parties communicate to each other, to the people of Mindanao, the larger Philippine public and the whole world.

If in the past, the structure of communication was one of conflict – unilateral, taking and defending a position and critical of each other, the new communication structure must be one of common effort, exploration and positivity. In order to effect this change, the parties need a new structure of communication.

Our suggestion is for the parties to designate an independent, impartial and highly eminent third person to communicate to the public on what is happening inside the negotiations. We must put an end to unilateral communications where communications is part of negotiations strategy.

There should be no other source of information. Real partners speak with one voice and therefore the parties must now do away from speaking unilaterally and separately. Speaking with one voice does not mean that there are no problems or challenges in the room. It only means that whatever happens inside the negotiations, the public will be informed by one source designated by the parties. In this way, communication is not anymore an extension of conflict, whether intentionally or unintentionally. This will also help negotiators focus on the more crucial task of negotiating rather than thinking also of how to communicate to the public.

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Author: Bong Montesa

I teach children how to think. I am engage in the work of ending armed conflicts and bring about a just, inclusive and sustainable peace in the Philippines and in the world.

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