Trust the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New People’s Army (CPP-NDF-NPA) to manipulate both President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer of a unilateral ceasefire and the public’s willingness to pursue a lasting peace with their own machinations aimed at advancing their own interests.
A few days after President Duterte confirmed before his audience of lawmakers, foreign dignitaries and diplomatic corps that his administration will declare a unilateral ceasefire with the NPA in order to end the violence and set the stage for the peace talks, there was no positive response from the CPP-NDF-NPA.
Instead, they staged an ambush that killed a militiaman and injured four others while they were headed back to an army camp in Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong town, Davao del Norte, last Wednesday.
In justifying their cowardly attack, the NPA declared that they are still on “active defensive posture” against troops whom they probably suspect of violating the ceasefire.
The ambush was rightly condemned by President Duterte who questioned the sincerity and commitment of the Reds in the peace talks. Hours after the President confirmed his declaration, the communists also wanted safe passes for some of its leaders in order to serve as incentive for the peace talks in Norway.
But as in every negotiation, it is expected that both sides give concessions to each other to ensure that the talks will be sustained and continued. The NPA ambush in Davao del Norte is not just an insult to the President’s offer of conciliation, it is a gesture of defiance against the Filipino people whom they claim to fight for.
Following President Duterte’s lobbying of the peace talks, the CPP-NDF-NPA had been doing some unilateral moves of their own, supposedly declaring their own war against drug lords and drug pushers apparently in support of the national campaign against the drug menace.
The message left unspoken in their unilateral declaration of war against drugs was their call on the public for their sympathy and support to the i r ideology and cause.
Their ideology is tragically antiquated, yet hundreds of thousands of rebels and their victims have died for it. In Cebu, the military said the insurgency problem had largely been diminished; and this is, in large part, to previous administrations that have developed roads and infrastructures that enabled those in the upland areas to go down and earn a decent, though humble, livelihood.
The road to the peace process between the government and the communists is long and hard, yet at this early stage, the government should emphasize that it is bending over backwards to invite the communists to talk peace and that it has every right to demand positive reciprocation from the communists to ensure that these talks are sustained.
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