By Ellson Quismorio
Bayan Muna Chairman Neri Colmenares and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate on Friday assailed President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest termination of the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), claiming it part of the government’s plan to attack progressive and opposition poll candidates as well as their supporters.
“Just the other night Pres. Duterte lambasted (former) Cong. Erin Tanada and his father for supposedly always defending communists. Yesterday, there was a government-sponsored rally in Congress maligning the Makabayan Bloc,” Colmenares said.
“Since last year, surveillance operations against teachers and government employees affiliated with progressive organizations intensified. Worse, in a span of a week three of our campaigners were killed, among them a former Bayan Muna coordinator,” he continued to enumerate.
Colmenares, who is running for senator in the May 13 midterm polls, voiced suspicion that the wholesale declaration of Mindanao as an election hotspot the other day is all part of the government’s grand plan.
“Aside from the red-tagging…black propaganda…and the trumped up charges and physical attacks, the Duterte administration seems to be cooking something in declaring the whole of Mindanao as an election hotspot to ensure that progressives and the opposition would lose in the elections,” he added.
Colmenares said the termination of the peace talks with the Reds is not good for the cause of just and lasting peace but as well as the upcoming elections. “It seems to be the signal to attack progressive candidates and the opposition so that pro-Duterte candidates would broaden their base in the Senate, Congress and the local government units.”
Zarate, on the other hand, said the termination of the peace talks “is a victory for the hawkish and militarists in the Duterte administration, who from day one of the process have already been sabotaging and derailing it.”
“This is truly unfortunate considering that this panel achieved in a few months what it took years for other government panels to accomplish. Closing further the door for talks could be a prelude to a more intensified militaristic solution to the country’s five decade-old rebellion, which also means even more displacements of our poor people and even more violations of human rights,” he said.
The Davao-based solon vowed to continue to work for the resumption of the peace talks even as red-tagging, black propaganda and actual attacks are being carried out by state forces against them.
“It is the whole country especially the majority of Filipinos that would benefit if the root causes of the armed conflict is addressed and just and lasting peace is finally achieved,” concluded Zarate