EDITORIAL

Other roads to peace

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The Communist Party of the Philippines has run out of political capital, along with the goodwill it once enjoyed from the Duterte government.

President Rodrigo Duterte has formally terminated peace negotiations with the communist group, citing the rebels’ failure to show sincerity in pursuing the peace process. The President signed Proclamation 360 on Thursday afternoon and directed the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the government peace panel to cancel negotiations with the CPP-NPA-NDFP.

“While we agreed to resume peace talks with the aforementioned group and exerted our best efforts to accelerate the signing and implementation of the final peace agreement, the NDF-CPP-NPA has engaged in acts of violence and hostilities,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement. “We find it unfortunate that their members have failed to show their sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peaceful negotiations,” he said.

The Palace was referring to continued attacks by the New People’s Army against government security forces since Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao, a few days after the Islamist State-linked Maute group laid siege to Marawi City in May.


“The President, as we all know, has always wanted to leave a legacy of peace under his administration. He has, in fact, walked the extra mile for peace. Rest assured that he will continuously pray that we may all find the peace that we seek for our beloved country in the fullness of God’s time,” Roque said in the statement.

Duterte has said he was no longer inclined to resume the talks with the rebels whom he branded as “terrorists” and “criminals.” CPP founder Jose Maria Sison earlier accused Duterte of being the top terrorist in the Philippines, holding him responsible for the “mass murder” of drug suspects in the country.

It is such a waste that after reaching the fifth round of talks brokered by Norway, the negotiations came to an end without bringing both sides any closer to the goal of peace.

The Communist Party’s armed struggle must have exhausted its strength in the unsuccessful five-decade long insurgency in the country. Whatever war the movement still intends to wage from here onward is bound to languish as a lost cause during the remaining four-and-a-half years of this administration.

With China now professing and providing support to the Philippines during at least the Duterte regime, the Mao-inspired battlecry of the local armed communist group led remotely by the Netherlands-based Sison is only likely to ring hollow in the face of shifting political alliances and the newly emerging needs of economies now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The communist movement will find it difficult to make its 20th-century anti-fascism slogans relevant when the issue of authoritarian rule-vs-democracy no longer dominates the concerns of the day in a world of empowered people and machines.

Having turned its back on the negotiating table, the Duterte administration must now find new avenues to peace with the various local groups of communist rebels. It looks like a good path may be through the local government units, which in fact, as presidential adviser on the peace process Secretary Jesus Dureza said on Wednesday, is among the few options already considered by the government. Some LGUs in Mindanao have started the negotiation process with the communist rebels at their local levels..

While other means are also being explored, the path through the LGUs must gain the support of all branches and segments of government, as well as all citizens of the country who abhor wars and advocate peace.

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