No reason to continue – Manila Standard

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posted July 20, 2017 at 12:01 am

Five soldiers were wounded as members of the New People’s Army attacked President Rodrigo Duterte’s security detail in North Cotabato on Wednesday.

This unilateral act of violence and bad faith caused the cancellation of backchannel talks scheduled between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines/ New People’s Army/National Democratic Front.

The informal talks had been planned to save the stalled negotiations between the two parties.

But what is to be saved, we dare ask, when the communists with whom the government is trying hard to forge peace are displaying undeniable acts of hostility?

And when their elderly leaders in Europe say they are keen to cooperate with the government, they also admit they have not much control over what their younger, more aggressive foot soldiers are actually doing on the ground.

What Secretary for the Peace Process Jesus Dureza calls “enabling environment” remains absent. Worse, acts of the communists actually foster a disabling, disheartening situation for anybody hoping to arrive at some acceptable form of peace with the government.

This administration has time and again showed its willingness to get past differences and pursue peace, anyway. Upon assuming office, Mr. Duterte appointed known leftist personalities to his Cabinet. It was a gesture meant to tell them they were welcome in the process of nation building.

But earlier this year, a series of clashes prompted the President to terminate a ceasefire with the communists; negotiations were under way amid the communists’ near-impossible demands for the release of dozens of political prisoners.

A pattern has been evident for some time now, but perhaps the government is blinded by hope that lasting peace would be attained if it kept talking to the communists. That has been our hope, too.

Unfortunately, it appears that government representatives are talking either to the wrong set of communists—leaders so out of touch with their members who don’t appear to respect their authority—or to a forked-tongue lot who says one thing and does exactly the opposite.

Either way, there does not seem to be much reason to keep talking, and keep hoping.

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