Friendship over?

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

Is the friendship between President Duterte, a self-confessed socialist, and his former teacher Joma Sison of the CPP, a mutual admiration for each other? After showing the country the extent of their friendship by calling each other up during the election campaign period, to praising each other to high heavens after the votes were cast, and even with Duterte keeping his promise of offering cabinet positions to the NDF, it seems the tide has changed.

The falling out seems to have started after Duterte announced his unilateral ceasefire against the NPA in his first State of the Nation Address. But after the NPA did not immediately reciprocate, and the incident where CAFGU members were ambushed on their way back to camp in observance of the ceasefire - one was killed and others wounded - Duterte immediately lifted the ceasefire order. This prompted Sison to describe Duterte as being "volatile" and a hoodlum, characteristics unbecoming of a leader.

Sison claimed a ceasefire on the part of the NPA was already being planned when Duterte lifted his ceasefire order. At least, that's what Sison says. What he did not explain was why the rebels ambushed the CAFGUs in that period.

Duterte then fired a broadside of his own against his former teacher, calling him arrogant, and even belittling the NPA as an armed force. He even mentioned that candidates that the NPA supported could not win in Davao without his help and endorsement.

I guess the honeymoon is over. But what about the peace talks, set to resume in August 20 in Oslo, Norway?

President Duterte threatened to call off the talks if the NPA would persist in using landmines against the military. Landmines indiscriminately maim and kill. Civilians have become victims of this horrible weapon.

Indeed, clashes between the AFP and the NPA seemed to have stepped up after the ceasefires were called off. Soldiers have been killed by this force that Duterte has shown no respect for.

The NDF is now saying that the release of all political prisoners is a prerequisite to the peace talks. The government has yet to respond to this demand.

Many feel that the CPP have been given too much concessions simply because Duterte considered Sison his friend.

If the friendship is indeed over, what happens to the peace process?

Both have demanded conditions prior to the resumption of talks. Who will be the first to balk? And then there is the issue of those who are already in Duterte's cabinet.

The road to peace is always a difficult one. But with the established ties between Duterte and Sison, it was expected to be a cake walk.

Not anymore. 

I believe both sides should show good faith by agreeing to a cessation of all operations prior to the peace talks. If the idea is to forge a lasting peace, why not begin immediately?

What hinders a cessation of armed conflict, which only brings misery to all concerned, combatants and non-combatants alike?

Is there a hidden agenda somewhere?


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