Silver lining to Philippine disaster? A rebel truce


A New People's Army guerrilla in a remote village in the southern island of Mindanao on December 26, 2010.



There is little to celebrate about a horrific typhoon that has took the lives of nearly 650 Filipinos and ruined more than $200 million worth of crops. The storm, known as Bopha, has devastated the Philippines in a year already stricken with destructive monsoons.

But at least the storm has convinced the island nation's communist rebels, the New People's Army, to suspend its strikes while damaged regions recover. As the Manila-based GMA outlet reports, the Maoists, whose struggle has left more than 40,000 dead, have offered a truce in the storm's wake.

This disaster won't reverse the rebels' ideological stance.

Nor will it resolve the fundamental problems the fuel their decades-running insurgency.

But history has shown us that extreme weather events can sometimes be parlayed into peace -- or at least open the door to improved negotiations. In Islamic Aceh, wracked by rebellion for decades, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami played an invaluable role in pushing the rebels and the Indonesian military to draw down their bloody conflict.