Under Duterte presidency
BY ROGER M. BALANZA
After Moro rebels started giving up their arms for peace in Mindanao, the communist insurgency, the other ugly face blotting the Philippine skies, may soon fade to oblivion.
Under the presidency of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Although he has yet to announce his presidential bid in 2016, Duterte said that if he is the President, he would enter into a coalition with communist rebels in a bid to end the 40-year old communist insurgency.
In what is seen as a historic breakthrough in the quest for peace in Mindanao, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has decommissioned some of its fighters who surrendered their firearms recently in Central Mindanao, the heartland of the Moro insurgency.
The arms-to-plowshare event is only a small part of the peace agreement with the MILF under the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that would create an autonomous Bangsamoro region in Muslim-dominated areas of Mindanao.
The Moro and communist insurgencies are the twin bottlenecks that for decades hobbled developments in the countryside.
The Moro insurgency may be coming to an end.
But the communist insurgency, personified in the New People’s Army (NPA) — the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its political arm National Democratic Liberation Front (NDF) — remains a strong influence in the rural sreas. Now the only remaining active communist insurgency in Asia, the Philippine insurgency has left thousands of dead and stymied countryside development.
Duterte said he was supporting the pro-people platforms of the CPP but frowned on the communists waging military warfare against government to achieve change and has long supported peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF combine.
A Duterte as President talking peace with the leftist combine would have larger implications in the quest for peace than the current peace pact with the MILF.
President Benigno Aquino is being lauded for his effort for peace with the Mindanao Moros.
But while the BBL is seen as the solution to the Moro insurgency which is centered only in Mindanao, resolving the communist insurgency is of bigger implication as it would involve the entire country.
Even as the Philippine military claims the insurgents have been reduced to an inconsequential number, the NPA continues to hold sway in many rural territories.
Duterte could be the President to resolve this other face of the Philippine insurgency.
There is a long-standing trust and confidence between the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and Duterte who admits he is a leftist by heart.
From his exile in The Netherlands, CPP founder Jose Maria Sison once said peace negotiations with a ‘President Duterte’ would be smooth and fast because Duterte and the communist movement have a common pro-people agenda.
As he is well-known to communist leaders both in the mainstream and underground, Duterte is in close touch with local commanders of the NPA and frequently acts as conduit in negotiations for release of troopers and policemen captured by the rebels.
Communist guerillas on June 13, released a captured trooper to Duterte, in Kiamba, Sarangani province.
Private First Class Khen Subere was the last of dozens of troopers and policemen whose release was facilitated by Duterte.
During Subere’s release, Duterte bared to media his plans for the insurgency if he becomes President.
Duterte said he would enter into a coalition with the CPP and end the communist insurgency by, among others, having three key government offices headed by leftists.
He named the offices as the Department Agricultural Reform (DAR), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Having communists involved in governance in the three key departments would respond to leftists advocacy on agrarian reform, environmental protection and poverty, said Duterte.
The first thing he would do if he sits in Malacanang, Duterte said, is to craft a common agenda for peace with the CPP/NPA/NDF.
Duterte said he would insist that the leftists talk peace with government for faster resolution to the decades-old insurgency.
“I cannot wage a war against our own people,” Duterte said. The insurgency problem has killed many Filipinos, he said.