President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his National security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. assured us of the government’s honesty in pursuing peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)- New People’s Army (NPA). Duterte has directed his bunkmate, Labor secretary Silvestre Bello III to go and talk with CPP founder Joma Sison whom Duterte claims “has a message to him (Duterte).”
It is common knowledge that Sison once was Duterte’s professor in political science. The yarn was even spun to establish that Sison was a mentor of Duterte and that explains why Duterte was close to the CPP-NPA during his incumbency as Davao mayor.
We don’t exactly know what Duterte learned from Sison, but surely, this President is completely ignorant of Socialism. Maybe Duterte learned of Stalinism–that version of Socialism which Orwell wrote about in his classic book, the Farm.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo tried to manage the effects of such a pronouncement by reminding the people that, Duterte did not actually close the door for peace. He even described this gesture of re-opening talks as the last card of the President.
I admire Panelo–he’s really a good lawyer. Just to prop up his boss, Panelo completely swept aside weeks of exchanges between Duterte and Sison after his principal totally slammed the door behind the Communists several months ago. Those nasty exchanges even extended as far as last October.
Panelo tried to soften the impact of Duterte’s gesture by saying that the door was actually left ajar for quite some time, after Communist rebels dealt state security forces some serious blows in their encounters in Luzon and the Visayas. So, this is an indirect admission that Duterte is really a softie, not a toughie which he tried to project himself for quite some time now?
Inspite of AFP pronouncements of mass defections, the Communist movement is gaining major field victories and is expanding as we speak. Duterte’s mishandling of the peace and order situation, mainly the insurgency issue, has benefited the anti-government forces by leaps and bounds. Yes, there were defections, but these did not affect the reputation and integrity of the movement before its 11 million mass base scattered throughout the archipelago.
Sison is right when he described Duterte as the foremost recruiter of New People’s Army rebels. With the AFP leading the anti-insurgency fight with their militarist approach, surely, the abandonment of the whole nation approach has taken its decisive toll on the comprehensive handling of the insurgency. The rebel ranks has swollen this time made up of highly ideological youth who truly believes in the prescription being promoted by the Party.
We are at a situation of pre-EDSA uno.
Sison must be too naive to accept such an offer since such has an impact on the actions by field commanders of the NPA. It is not to the advantage of the rebels to pursue or re-open talks because honestly, the Duterte Administration is entering its weakest state since 2016.
These rebels must fight and fight to their best. The fragmentation of the elite ranks is slowly happening and it is further weakening the state. The military and state security agencies themselves have severely weakened, fractured at the seams due to politicking and rent-seeking.
A stronger opposition is beginning to emerge, thanks to the recentless organizing at grassroots levels by church leaders and workers, and the continuous political work by cadres and activists. It is just a matter of time, before a new opposition emerges from the woodwork.
With Duterte exposing himself more from harm, what with him hitting his rival oligarchs, it is entirely not surprising that by this time, agents of these oligarchs are already actively talking and negotiating with the rebel movement on possible tactical offensives meant to oust Duterte from power.
An opposition composed of the best and the most idealistic segments of the middle forces–is this possible? Let me answer you by saying that this lethal combination– the idealistic Left with the idealistic Right– has been behind the ouster of Marcos and of Estrada. They want Duterte ousted too, and the time to do just that, is slowly emerging in the horizon.
What is most significant is the possibility of ex President Aquino’s minions working together and throw Mr. Duterte out of office.