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Gaming the ‘peace talks’

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte must be applauded for the “Barest conditionalities” set for the resumption of “peace talks”: 1) No extortion or collection of ‘Revolutionary Tax’. (In street parlance, call it “Tong”, as in ‘Revolutionary Tong’); 2) Stop ambuscades on AFP and police units, the burning of vehicles e.g. busses and private property; 3) Communist terrorists should not claim any territory anywhere in the country. (NDF complaints in the peace talks regarding government forces “encroaching” into alleged rebel areas. The president reacted with a curt, “That is crazy”; 4) Release of hostages by the CPP.

The DU30 strategy finally focuses the spotlight on the CPP/NPA as to its sincerity for achieving peace, at the same time, defining limits to government forbearance in a protracted process. This will be a litmus test answering to essential questions – Is there any future to this talks as it is currently structured? Or should we reformulate and localize peace initiatives?

Adding one more condition – the NDF be represented by the CPP. A reverse approach to allow the real administrators of the NPA, and the war, to talk directly with government. Long-drawn-out conflicts benefit communist armed and political revolution. It poses three realities: 1) Questions the resolve of government to enforce law and order; 2) Government inability to put an end or wallop the insurgency; 3) The strategic cycle of “Talk, talk & fight, fight”, is a working formula for the CPP strengthening armed and political fronts. The communists, true to form, are buying time and gaming the system to its advantage e.g. Interim Ceasefire?

A play of words. Latest pronouncements of the CPP Central Committee 2nd National Congress states, “The party program, reaffirms the necessity for waging armed revolution in order to counter the armed violence employed by US imperialists & the local reactionary ruling classes and end the oppressive and semi-colonial and semi-feudal system”. So, should we expect, as I previously wrote, for tigers to change their stripes? I don’t think so. It is what it is. Time for a reality check. CPP/NPA will grab power from the barrel of the gun. (Erik Espina)