Peace efforts with the Communist elements in the country must never be ruled out.
Although President Duterte announced last March the “permanent termination” of talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the National Democratic Front (NDF), and the New People’s Army (NPA), he has now renewed efforts to bring CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison and other leaders back to the negotiating table.
The President sent Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and former Agrarian Reform Secretary Hernani Braganza, to see Chairman Sison in Utrecht, Netherlands, early this month about the possibility of holding new peace talks in Manila. There is yet no agreement on this matter, but the two sides agreed that they would recommend to their respective principals that they declare nationwide ceasefires from December 23, 2019, to January 7, 2020. President Duterte issued his declaration Sunday night, followed by the CCP’s own declaration.
The agreement recommending mutual ceasefires was signed by Bello and Braganza for the government and by Fidel Agcaoili and Luis Jalandoni, chairman and adviser of the NDF negotiating panel. The signing was witnessed by Kristina Lie Revheim of the Norwegian government, which has long been offering its good offices for the peace talks since they began at the start of the Duterte administration in 2016.
It must be pointed out that the other rebellion in the Philippines – that of the Moro people – is so much older than that of the leftist movement which began 48 years ago. The Moro people never yielded to the colonial powers and the Philippine government. But now we have a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao headed by officials of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The administration is now meeting with the other Moro movement, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), in the continuing search for peace in Mindanao.
President Duterte, the nation’s first president from Mindanao, has moved ahead of all previous government efforts to bring about peace with the Moro people. He must continue the search for peace with the other rebel movement – the New People’s Army of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front.
Total peace may not be achieved during the present administration but the effort must never be abandoned. The ongoing reciprocal ceasefires this Christmas season, we hope, will be followed by renewed efforts to finally achieve peace with the NPA-CPP-NDF .