Mr. Duterte with the Left is an amazing, awe-inspiring optic

Marlen V. Ronquillo

Marlen V. Ronquillo

Forget for a moment the gruesome, horrific footage of four, five-year-old kids senselessly snuffed out by the war on drugs. How can the future of the nation be collateral damage to the war on drugs? For a change, another footage brings instant hope to an insurgency-weary nation. That awe-inspiring photo of Mr. Duterte – with his fist in an awkward clench – hosting a dinner for the leaders of the Left at the Palace.

That was like the gesture of President Quezon to personally discuss the agrarian concerns of the Sosyalistas with Pedro Abad Santos in Pampanga – which was climaxed by Quezon’s announcement to give all of his 100 hectares of prime agricultural land in Arayat to the tenant-farmers. There are still grainy photos of Quezon with the Sosyalistas.

The Rebels at the Gate, indeed. But fully embraced by the state. And with the full intent to silence the guns of insurgency and sincerely talk peace with Mr. Duterte and his government.

Seal the deal, man, and you will go down in history as one great President. What failed in 1986 has found its perfect timing now. There is very little incentive for Mr. Duterte to abort a deal of epic significance to the nation.

Mrs. Aquino tried to talk peace with the Left in 1986. But at a time when the appointment of a mere progressive like Augusto Sanchez – and his talk about profit-sharing – as labor secretary was viewed as a drift to a leftist state, you instantly felt that the talks, even with the sincerity, would go nowhere. The military rebels who were the central characters in the ouster of Mr. Marcos held too much sway and they drowned out the voices of the Aquino-supporting progressives in and out of the Cabinet.

“Chasing Reds was a national sport.” The elements of a faction in the government of Mr. Aquino were determined to chase the Reds, real and mostly imaginary, out of the Aquino government. After so much bickering and recrimination, both sides called off the peace talks and things were back to Square One.

Today, the Left is still a potent force. There was no exaggeration to its claim that it opened several guerrilla fronts during the time of Mrs. Aquino’s son, the previous President. And it can open up some more should it desire to do so now.

It has an above-ground organization active in Congress, totally legit. But that underground and above-ground presence is useless unless what the Left calls as the “conditions obtaining” are not “conditions obtaining” in Philippine society. The conditions are intractable poverty, a vast rich-poor divide, the absolute lack of meritocracy and a political economy that offers no solutions to the crippling problems; the conditions that make the Left a viable proposition.

In Mr. Aquino’s six years in office, the economy grew by 6 to 7 percent consistently. But the top 1 percent vacuumed up 60 percent of the gains, and left the 99 percent scrambling for their crumbs. Those six years created a class of Filipino dollar billionaires that were ranked in the category of “those-who-can-buy-a-small country-rich.”

Yet, some towns, mostly in Mr. Duterte’s home region of Mindanao, had poverty levels of 84 percent and never budged at all from that dire status despite the growth levels of Mr. Aquino. Mr. Aquino’s invocation of “inclusive growth” was a verbal scam to cosmeticize the dark underbelly of his “for the top 1 percent presidency” – the condition, precisely, that heightens the allure of the Left and seals the success of its recruitment missions.

Today is the time to talk peace, silence the guns of insurgency and mainstream the Left. And history is on the side of Mr. Duterte.

Today, Mr. Duterte’s government is negotiating with the legitimate party, the Reaffirm faction, the group with the real army and the strong above-ground organization.

The rigid belief in its capability to seize state power via a long protracted war is maybe impractical and was last validated in 1949 but it is the greatest source of its staying power. The dogged, plodding strength has its roots on the deep belief that history is on the side of insurgency. (At some point in my young life, I believed in that. At some point in the young lives of my parents, they believed in that, too. Later, you find out that there is no such thing as historical determinism.)

The factions outside of this group, those who reject the theory of a long, protracted war, have no value to Mr. Duterte for the simple reason that they have no army. Which is, from a negotiating point, correct.

Moreover, the political environment is different now. The usual worst fears about a “Red Menace” are not as hysterical as before and the witch hunters, professionals and amateurs, have gone back to their caves. Across the globe, left-wing insurgencies are either being wasted by irrelevance or successfully negotiating peace pacts with the state. Just look at the FARC. That Mr. Duterte now prefers moving to the China-Russia axis and moving away from its old alliances, is viewed positively by the Left.

Across the globe, the pinpointed number one threat to global peace is Islamic fundamentalism and its armies that want to establish caliphates and antediluvian theocracies. Secular insurgencies still worry Western democracies but at a lesser level of hysteria.

Mr. Duterte wants to seize the moment and make leadership history.


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  1. Frank A. Tucker on

    Oh – dear, have we learned ABSOLUTELY nothing ? Look to history to see how other nations co-existed with communism !

  2. The way I see our political situation since I become conscious and aware of my own environment, we have been moving on the same story every now and then from one President to another. There are homeless people in the streets; we see hungry people everywhere, Uncontainable by thoughts the poverty from among Farmers of our society, dropped outs from among students in elementary schools and high schools due to poverty, unattended and unassisted sick men and women due to poverty, no decent housing for the poor to build and live, so much poverty!
    Mr. Marlen Ronquillo, why not suggest to the government to build an emergency food bank for the farmers to pick up their foods when they don’t have. What happened to Mindanao protest rally due to famine from among farmers, who were shot by the police, was unimaginable; food bank for the hungry people to come and pick up their food when they don’t have; food bank for the students in elementary and school students to come and pick up their food when they don’t have money to buy their food for breakfast and lunch. Let us start from here, and for the sick and other medical needs of our people- I think Philhealth has the money to spend to; for the housing needs- let us wait for Mrs. Robredo’s program.

    • unless our politicians and leader commit themselves in serving the people and Filipinos learn to work hard and not make short cuts then we will never get out of poverty.

  3. If I remember right, no other than Ms. Beth Day Romulo, (was it Manila Bulletin?) days after EDSA Revolution 1986 who wrote about Phil insurgency. She wrote that this group was financed by different sectors: China, Libya, USA, Marcos’, Joma Sison’s. Maybe then, she did not know that the late Ninoy Aquino joined Joma in the struggle. Me, too. It’s only now that I’ve learned from the media that the late Aquino was with the communists. That should explain why when Joma insinuated to come home to Pinas, then sitting president Noynoy quipped, “I’ll give him a cabinet post.” Joma is now old and gray, time to settle back to his nest and be well taken care of. Or is it more convenient and joyous to stay in a nursing home? Through him, by him, too many lives were snitched off. To “silence the gun” as you’ve said, is the most welcome move now. Excellent, Sir Marlen! No other man, no other Philippine president can effect that. If media were more responsible and cooperative enough to anchor this peace of a dream, half the work is done. But look at what are being sensationalize nowadays….one self-confessed criminal’s tons of lies of varied colors as against nine convicts painting just one picture of one similar theme. And one suggestion please, we urgently need more spotlights to focus on and light the dark motives of the liema-de-limaw-sorry-thrill-a-messed tandem, calling our President “mass murderer.” Can he prove that? Tita Cory won the libel suit she then filed against Beltran. Can’t this same matter apply to the sorry-PMAyer?