THERE is reason for President Rodrigo R. Duterte to call off peace talks with the communist groups once more. Just one reason: Absence of sincerity.
Yes, we're using absence and not lack. For how else can you describe how the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army/ National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) is addressing the peace initiatives of the government?
They would face the peace negotiators with declarations of wanting peace, and then their ground commanders would order an attack. That is what has been happening since peace talks have been started by the Duterte Administration. How many soldiers and policemen have already been killed in ambushes since the NPA refuse to even heed the call for peace. Add to that their sympathizers who have made it their vocation to never find anything good about this government, even with the peace negotiations going on.
There can never be a peace negotiation when the guns are firing. Firing a single bullet when leaders representing the rebels are calling for peace sends a message loud and clear: that the ones who are holding the guns do not respect their and the country's leaders. So, why should the talks be continued?
The consistent call for offensives by the troops on the ground is also telling us something: it is the locals who hold the trigger and it is the locals who are most affected, and this can never be discussed out there where the locals cannot even sit in and watch.
Time and again it has been shown that those who sit down to talk peace do not have any control of the people on the ground. But the people on the ground will always be connected to where they operate. The combatants are locals, give or take a few regions away; mostly the armed partisans and the medics. But the frontliners in the gunbattles are locals, some even children. This means their families are in the communities and their families have a stake in their taking up arms.
It's been tried before, why can't we try it again? Maybe the leaders have been away too long, they no longer have the moral ascendancy over these young people who may not even know anything about Jose Maria Sison outside his being the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines. For how can a leader even affect his people the same way when he has gone too long?
Out there in the woods are the young and the youths who are waging a war based on slogans about poverty and exploitation. That is where the real battle is. A hungry stomach will never believe that growth and development is coming. Their parents have heard those promises before.
Now it's time to prove that indeed, government is there for the people and not there to abuse the people and this can only be communicated well at the local level.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on July 20, 2017.
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