Last week we again read and heard of reports of the harsh exchanges of words by acknowledged exiled communist rebel leader Jose Ma. Sison on one hand, and the heads of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) on the other. This after PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde told the media that they are working with the Interpol to execute an arrest order on Sison who is now in the Netherlands.
This development brought us back to the euphoria felt by the Filipino nation during the early days of the assumption to office of President Rodrigo Duterte, a former mayor of Davao City and known with close ties with the leaders of the communist insurgents not only in Mindanao but of the top echelon of the movement namely Sison, Fidel Agcaoili, and former priest Fr. Jalandoni, among others.
Hence, one of the most anticipated things to happen during the administration of President Duterte is the end to the decades old communist insurgency in the country. In fact, according to the President shortly after he assumed office on June 30, 2016 the rebellion has already cost the Filipino nation so many lives and has slackened the Philippines’ development stride.
To emphasize on his desire to put an end to the war of attrition that has been bedeviling the country, the then new President asked this question to all the Filipinos through the media, especially those who were skeptical of his earlier plan to give the Reds a role in his government: “Are you not tired of fighting against fellow Filipinos?”
Indeed the response, though not overtly manifest, was clearly readable in the body language of the people. Yes they were tired of fighting a senseless war with fellow brother Filipinos. Yes, there was no doubt in the minds that those people mandated by government to pursue the rebels relentlessly, as well as the insurgents who were ordered by their higher-ups to ambush troopers and other agents of the law were already bothered by their conscience every time blood is spelled in the conduct of their supposed sworn duties to “protect” the people – the law enforcement agents warding off armed attacks and ideological incursions by the communist insurgents; the rebels conducting ambuscades on government soldiers in the process of “delivering” the Filipino masses from the clutches of an abusive and corrupt government.
With Duterte’s then bold intention to bring back the so-called communists among us to the mainstream society, another opportunity was at hand to heal a long-divided nation. But three years into the President’s term however, it appears that he is not likely to succeed. The skeptics, they who believe that in making the country whole their interests – political, ideological, and business — would be imperiled, appear to be having their way in frustrating the President’s noble intention.
In similar vein, the same skeptics also somehow managed to sow intrigues among the different sectors in the rebel organization. And the success of the intrigues had been seen in the various bloody encounters and countless lives lost by the time of the President’s pronouncement of a ceasefire with the rebels up to the time that he finally called the peace talk offer quits.
Now, with less than three years left of his administration, it could be the most critical time for the President to re-think his position on bringing back the rebels to the mainstream government. And it is also the most appropriate time for the leaders of the communist insurgents to think and act as one, not that those on top talk of negotiating peace while those in the ground pursuing the war.
Really the President and government, and all those who are providing leadership in the communist rebel movement including those in the undefined battlefields, must decide once and for all if they are still interested in forging peace for the country and the people.
For isn’t their primordial consideration the aggrandizement of the interest of the Filipino people and not just a select few?