One of the great burdens of our country, the communist insurgency from which we all enjoyed a shaky respite, appears to have gone back to its hateful, violent norm. After brief hope that the Duterte administration’s ceasefire and negotiations with the CPP-NPA would bring about peace, the recent killing of 6 soldiers and kidnapping of another 2, has ended the dream, at least for now. Duterte has rightfully dropped the proffered olive branch and announced renewed war.
As President Duterte said, he cannot be faulted for not trying. Government efforts started as early as the SONA when a unilateral ceasefire was announced. What this failed effort calls into question anew is whether the CPP-NPA can be sincere in its desire for peace, and capable of keeping its side of the bargain. Or is it in fact a bit like negotiating with an entity for it to kill itself? Is it like negotiating with cows to end the existence of all cows? How embedded is violence and overthrow of the government with their stated ideology of the the workers’ and farmers’ struggle?
Likewise, the idea of the CPP-NPA as an organized force reporting centrally to a recognized common leadership is thrown into doubt. The CPP-NPA seemed unable to even enforce a ceasefire in its ranks nationwide. No wonder. It stands to reason that with such a diverse and geographically separated country like ours, the CPP-NPA shares similarities with the Moro insurgents. There are probably numerous splinter and rogue groups, only nominally still under the CPP-NPA umbrella. How many of these groups are actually disguised kidnap-for-ransom and extortion gangs? How many are just plain bandits wanting to live off “revolutionary taxes” and act like warlords in their area? How do you even negotiate with such a multi-headed hydra?
If ideology were really important, then the CPP-NPA should already be seeing in Duterte a great opportunity. How many Philippine presidents have invited communists and leftists to join the administration? Isn’t that the end goal of the fight–to have a seat at the table and influence or even make policy? If they cannot be happy with partial participation, then they should also support Duterte’s call to change to a Parliamentary system, because they can then consolidate as a political party and run in the elections. That could lead to the birth of a real party system in the country that is distinguished by ideologies.
The non-violent Left should already be distancing themselves from their violent counterparts. The self-styled leftist sympathizers and the anti-Duterte crowd have found common ground and are already making noises about the failed peace talks. As usual, the noise is grating because it gives too much credence to a discredited ideology and the CPP-NPA, as if it should be treated like an entity equal to the government. How anybody can not be on the side of the government on this just speaks to partisan agendas and an overall lack of patriotism.
The cards are on the table. Anyone who insists on supplanting the government via the force of arms should not be romanticized and hidden behind the term, “revolutionary”. In fact, as Duterte himself has realized, the correct term for these people is “terrorist”.