WHERE do we go from here? President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the lifting of the ceasefire following the unexpected New People’s Army’s (NPA) own declaration. It could have been just part of the perils, given the fact that the unilateral ceasefire by the NPA was not demanded by the government, except that the NPA executed unarmed government soldiers before their scheduled ceasefire was to be lifted.
The beastly manner by which victims were mutilated with gunshots when they were executed also redefined the image of the armed rebels. The President had placed them in the same category as the Abu Sayyaf and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and labeled them as “terrorists.”
Duterte has ordered the Armed Forces to brace up for an all-out war against the armed elements of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The Philippines panel negotiating peace with the CPP/NPA/National Democratic Front (NDF) is folding its tent while the “Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees” that gives protection and security to consultants of the rebels that participate in the discussion in the peace negotiations has also been served.
Any which way I look at it, the peace talks are effectively cancelled. Sad.
Sad and shocking and up to this time I still cannot reconcile myself from that moment when I thought a stable peace with the CPP/NPA is just within reach and suddenly I am left with nothing to hope for. Emptiness and images of bloody conflicts flash instead on the dark screen.
Why we are now back to ground zero when every event in Oslo and in Rome was festive and smells of peace and reconciliation? How can the breakdown happen when the rebels now are actively participating in the Duterte government? What more guarantees do the CPP/NPA/NDF want when those they wanted to be released to serve as members of its negotiating panels and consultants were freed? More than 400 political detainees are set to be freed once the peace agreement is signed. The sick and the elderly are supposed to be released ahead.
The orders for the arrest of the top honcho in the CPP/NPA are out. As I write this piece pursuit operations against the armed elements in Manay, Davao Oriental and in Bukidnon are ongoing.
As these military operations commence the NDF seeks the resumption of the peace talks. But then again, true to form, the NDF from far away Norway blamed the government itself for the death of the soldiers when already the NPA owned the crime. The double talk only aggravates to an already volatile condition and incensed an angry President Duterte.
And what about Secretary Jesus Dureza who had spent a good number of his best years in peace building? I called him up the other day but he texted that he had lost his voice. That’s like a double intendre but I can almost feel how deeply frustrated he is in the turn of events. Like his boss Duterte, Jess, I am certain, is as eager as everyone to bring the talks to fruition.
To Secretary Jess, and to our President Digong, please do not close the book as yet. Just turn the page. We may have lost and failed in this one moreover this should give us another chance to rebuild.
To quote Marilyn Monroe, a woman which I am sure would perk up the peacemaker and the President, “Sometimes good things fall apart for better things can fall together.”