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Jess Dureza’s quest for peace | Philippine News Agency


By Jun Ledesma

SEC. Jesus Dureza has liberated himself from the iniquitous iniquity of the bureaucracy. He was to deliver the axe himself on the two ranking officials who oversee the PAMANA projects of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Peace Process. He was just validating the pieces of information and evidence against the two officials, namely Usec Ronald Flores and Asst. Sec. Yesther Donn Baccay and had informed Pres. Rodrigo Duterte about it. Unfortunately, Secretary Dureza have to fly to New York to represent the country in a function of the United Nations. Hardly had he unpacked his suitcase when he got back, President Duterte beat him on the draw and anounced the termination of the two officials.

That placed Secretary Jess in a fix and he did the right thing by submitting his resignation to the President, and in equal fashion as Duterte did in announcing the termination of the two, posted his letter resignation on Facebook stressing in bold letters his “taking full responsibility for corruption at OPAPP”.

In accepting the resignaion of Dureza, it is not only Duterte but the country that lost a confidant and an asset. Jess had placed his life in countless times to negotiate and rescue victims of kidnapping, victims used as shields of ruthless criminals, persuading the Ampatuans to yield and face trial for the gruesome murder of journalists and kin of their political rivals. Jess wife, Beth, had been in constant delicate health condition and in many instances when she was in intensive care, Jess had to rush to do important task because nobody else would. When she wakes up, she would first pray for the safety of Jess and then later her own thanksgiving.

If there is peace in Mindanao today, I would give full merit to Secretary Dureza for his unrelenting efforts to bring the MILF leaders and the MNLF likewise to a negotiating table. Jess has an inexhaustible wellspring of patience and along with it a natural persuasiveness and endurance.

And how often would he fly to the Netherlands to negotiate peace with Jose Ma. Sison, the chieftain of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New Peoples Army? How many times would he travel thousands of miles to do back-channel chores to bring this master of double-talk Joma back to the negotiating table? If you think winter in Oslo and the Hague is a thrill and air travel is smooth in economy class, then try it a dozen times and find the meaning of exhaustion and tension. But Jess Dureza has a dogged determination so wanting in ordinary mortals.

Just because his two sub-alterns dipped their fingers in the cookie jar and therefore have to be jettisoned is reason enough to let go of Sec. Jesus Dureza? Mr. President, you gave the man multi-tasks. If the shady bid in the search for the 3rd Telco passed under your nose and still the artist and architect/s celebrate like they own tomorrow, then why not lend an ear to Jess? You have both agreed to sack the corrupt then why should it culminate to Jess relinquishing the delicate and complex art of peace negotiation to ...yet another military man?

Oh well maybe, when talk fails in peace negotiation the next option is an all-out war. The President had delivered that message in no uncertain terms, sending troops and attack helicopters where terrorists make troubles. Then maybe it is time for the peacemaker to step aside.

Meanwhile, while we grovel over this, there is one happy lady who had kept her silence over the travails of Jess. She is the ever patient patient Beth, the living martyr in Secretary Dureza’s long and dangerous quest for peace.

About the Columnist

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Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.