With the signing of Proclamation 360 terminating the on and off peace talks with the communist insurgents in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte is once more declaring war and perhaps a long, merciless war this time.
It must be remembered that making peace with the National Democratic Front (NDF)-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – The New People’s Army (NPA) was among Duterte’s priorities since he became president in June last year, and for good reasons.
Not only are Filipinos fighting one another, but this internal conflict has been going on for 50 years now with over 40,000 people killed already, not to mention the expenses incurred when an entourage of peace negotiators flies to the Netherlands where the suppose Maoist leaders of the NDF-CPP-NPA live.
But what really has been angering Duterte is the fact that even during a declared truce still the NPA, the armed wing of the rebels, stages an ambush that sometimes kill innocent civilians, thus, prompting Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque to say this time: “We find it unfortunate that their members have failed to show their sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peaceful negotiations.”
I don’t think there has ever been a president in the past who has earnestly pursued peace with the Maoist-led rebels in the Netherlands the way Duterte has.
Not only has Duterte been a student of Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, the exiled founder of the CPP, at the Lyceum University, but Duterte himself has admitted being a leftist and therefore has often said that he understood the plight of the rebels, but his presidency, however, is now about uniting the people and not the dismembering of the republic.
Unfortunately the good intentions of Duterte for peace is not being earnestly reciprocated the same way by Sison and cohorts for reasons only they know, even issuing a defiant statement after Proclamation 360, saying, that the revolutionary forces now have no choice but to intensify guerrilla warfare in rural areas.
Indeed, what a pity and what a forsaken chance that peace has been made even more unreachable now.