“This is an unfortunate development in our work for peace. Never before have we all reached this far in our negotiations with (the CPP/NPA/NDFP).”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has dropped any pretense to addressing the roots of the armed conflict.
After two rounds of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in 2017, Duterte eventually terminated the peace talks , declared the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist groups and ordered his men to kill armed NPA guerrillas on sight.
Duterte practically blocked the road to peace. He is repeating the counterinsurgency formula of previous administrations: ignore the roots of the armed conflict and crush the armed revolution through a militarist approach.
Socioeconomic reforms went down the drain
Whatever achievements gained by the GRP and NDFP panels went to naught.
In the January 22- January 26 talks in Rome, both parties projected the signing of Comprehensive Agreement on Socioeconomic Reforms (Caser) /?s=Caser&submit= and the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPCR), the second and third substantive agenda in the GRP-NDFP peace talks, by yearend.
At a time when both parties have made breakthroughs in the drafting of Caser, including agrarian reform and rural development that will ease poverty and underdevelopment, Duterte chose to end the talks.
Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza himself said in his official statement: “This is an unfortunate development in our work for peace. Never before have we all reached this far in our negotiations with (the CPP/NPA/NDFP).”
Duterte’s turnabout came after U.S. President Donald Trump visited the country. The U.S. government has provided $85 million for counterterrorism-related equipment, training, and support for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and $65 million to “enhance the Philippines’ maritime security capabilities.” Trump also pledged $2 million for Duterte’s “war on drugs.”
Duterte’s wars bound to fail
Instead of crushing the armed revolution, Duterte is fanning it with his copycat counterinsurgency program.
His misnamed Oplan Kapayapaan, like Arroyo and Aquino’s Oplan Bantay Laya, is characterized by extrajudicial killings of activists, trumped-up charges against development workers and dissenters, bombings and forced evacuation of peasant and indigenous peoples’ communities, among others.
As of November 2017, human rights alliance Karapatan has documented 113 victims of political killings, 81 victims of torture, over 54,000 victims of threat, harassment, and intimidation. More than 364,000 civilians became victims of indiscriminate firing and aerial bombing, and over 426,000 of forced evacuation.
The Duterte regime has also imprisoned 121 new political prisoners.
Duterte’s bloody “war on drugs” has made his administration more loathsome.
Duterte has failed to learn from the mistakes of previous administrations. A militarist approach won’t end the armed conflict. Until the social and economic causes of poverty and underdevelopment are addressed, the raging war continues.
As a Lumad student who lost her classmate and driven away from her home said, ““It’s government that is teaching us to become rebels.”