EDITORIAL - Bad faith
(The Philippine Star) - March 10, 2017 - 12:00am

President Duterte is right: the communist movement has never had it so good. It has unprecedented representation in the Cabinet, courtesy of a Chief Executive with a genuine sympathy for people whose grievances drove them to take up arms against the government. He has plucked exiled communist leaders from the limbo of exile in one of the world’s most liberal states, trusting them to still have control over armed fighters in the Philippines, and revived moribund peace negotiations.

The communists have responded by imposing sweeping demands, and then throwing a murderous tantrum and deceiving the President when the demands were not met. The National Democratic Front announced it was lifting its unilateral ceasefire, but kidnapped and killed government forces many days before the lifting was supposed to take effect.

Rodrigo Duterte didn’t get to where he is by being naïve. With four policemen killed by the New People’s Army in yet another ambush the other day, and three civilians also executed after trial before an NPA kangaroo court, the President ordered the Armed Forces yesterday to “unleash the weapons of war” against the rebels.

He sounded more disappointed than angry as he also called on local government executives to help him bring peace and order in Mindanao or he would exercise his special powers and declare martial law. He could not be rendered inutile, he said, in the face of the communists’ “ideological cannibalism” and continuing killing of fellow Filipinos.

The peace process need not die with the President’s moves. Social injustice drives people to insurgency, and there are rebels who are willing to rejoin the social mainstream if their legitimate grievances are addressed. The government can reach out to these rebels and resume peace efforts at the local level.

Whether communist leaders have no control over their ground forces or they deliberately ordered the recent deadly attacks, their responses to the government’s peace initiatives smack of bad faith. The President is being jerked around, and he can only tolerate so much deception.


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