“You can’t talk peace and have a gun.”
– “Kaleidoscope World” by Francis Magalona (1964-2009)
President Rodrigo Duterte announced a unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines, its armed wing New People’s Army, and its political wing National Democratic Front during his first-ever State of the Nation Address last Monday.
That is widely-regarded as one of the highlights of his 90-minute speech. After all, the Communist insurgency in the countryside has been going on since 1969, perhaps as early as early as the 1950s if one considers the post-World War II version of HUKBALAHAP or the erstwhile Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon as one of the forerunners of the NPA. For the past five decades, different administrations tried different approaches to solve the problem, like continuing the military offensive while engaging in peace talks. However, the problem persists to this day.
Against that backdrop, the President’s effort to re-initiate peace talks with the Reds is indeed laudable. However, just two days later, NPA fighters ambushed members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit in Kapalong, Davao del Norte, killing one and wounding four others.
Frustrated by the apparent stab in the back, Duterte gave the NPA until Saturday afternoon to explain why the attack happened despite his order of a ceasefire. Otherwise, he said he will cancel the unilateral ceasefire that he declared.
Needless to say, these rebels should meet the government halfway in all these efforts. It cannot be one-sided, and they need to show sincerity. For example, CPP founder Jose Maria Sison reiterated that his group cannot reciprocate just yet because they need “to be given enough time to study the implications and consequences of the (government) ceasefire.”
Picture this: When you’re trying to court someone, that person should show not only appreciation for your gestures but also the willingness to reciprocate the efforts. Otherwise, naglolokohan lang kayo.
Here’s the bottom line: If the CPP-NPA-NDF won’t be willing to make peace with a President who proudly says “I am left,” who’s willing to declare a unilateral ceasefire against them, and who’s willing to give people associated with the Reds positions in the cabinet, then they will never make peace with ANY president.
President Duterte has already bent over backwards for them by giving them. It’s time for them to do their part.