By Erik Espina
President Rodrigo Duterte initiated what he announced in a public forum, “a small window” for the re-opening of peace talks with the 49-year-old subversive, turned terrorist, CPP-NPA-NDF group. This is a limited attempt at a tantalizing prospect of reviving a sclerotic process made difficult by the very group which has and will predictably never reform their hardened stand on communism. This, despite the rest of the world moving forward with European trends on socialism.
The window of opportunity for the resumption of peace talks is limited to 60 days. It is vital to recall the terms and conditions set by the President for a resumption of the talks: 1) Ceasefire, 2) No extortion in the guise of revolutionary taxes, 3) No raids and burning of private property, 4) Government hosting the peace negotiation, locally.
If past experience is to tutor us, alarm bells will continue to ring at the back of our minds, as domestic acolytes of Communism will never change their colors, nor their attempts at ultimately bringing down democratic governance with all the violent thinking and arsenal at their disposal. Davao Mayor Sarah Duterte’s sober counsel on localized peace talks is the peace initiative worth considering. This must be simultaneous with national efforts.
The “peace process,” meaning government addressing social, economic, and political reforms, must be pursued as part of nation building, independent of armed groups dictating the agenda, or lecturing our duly elected officials on their disguised totalitarian agenda to commit bloody societal catharsis.
Looking back, I reflect on the lost opportunity for law and order to reign, with peace finally restored under the watch of President Joseph “Erap” Estrada had we not been hoodwinked by a 2nd EDSA. This could have been the greatest legacy of Erap, with the decapitation of the MILF in Camp Abu Bakr, along with 40 satellite camps. Leading personalities, tail tucked between legs, fled to their Putra Jaya masters. Had Erap completed his term in office, no doubt, the fate awaiting the CCP-NPA would have been as the MILF.
I recall the Estrada warning on all enemies of the state: “There is only one republic. One flag, one territory. And the AFP is not prohibited from entering any territory of the Philippines.” We would have awakened to a country finally rid of the twin devils versus progress and national unity. Such a lost opportunity!