THE DURIAN BEAT
By: Roger Balanza
Columnist, Philippines News Agency
Joma Sison, the grand daddy of peace spoilers
FOR the nth time, President Rodrigo Duterte has opened the door for the resumption of peace negotiations with communist rebels in a last-ditch bid to end the country’s 50-year old insurgency.
The President has given a “last chance” for the communists to talk peace with the Philippine government to start within 60 days.
The off-and-on peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political arm of the communist movement, were previously held abroad, but this time Duterte wants the negotiations in the country and has invited Jose Maria Sison aka Joma, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and NDF chief consultant, to personally participate in the talk.
Joma, living in exile for the past three decades in The Netherlands, has set conditions for him to return to the country.
One, an assurance that there would be no “peace spoilers” in the military who might sabotage the talks.
Two, legal and security for him and the members of the NDF negotiating panel.
Three, the government of the Philippines and the NDF should sign a memorandum of agreement to respect existing agreements and draft agreements on bilateral ceasefire and amnesty of for political prisoners.
Who are the peace spoilers of the peace talks? Joma points to the ultra-rightists in the military. His eyes are closed to the violence of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the CPP.
Duterte may have terminated the talks in the past under his administration, but his latest decision to resume the talks demonstrates that he could stretch his patience if only to achieve peace in the country.
It is not hard to recall that Duterte terminated the talks not because he is influenced by what Joma described as peace spoilers in the military but because of saboteurs in the ranks of Joma.
The atrocities of the NPA in the midst of ongoing talks in the past speak much about the insincerity, treachery and double-talk of Joma and CPP/NPA/NDF mafia.
The peace saboteurs are not the military but the NPA with its violence.
Add to the NPA the NDF legal fronts engaging Duterte and his administration in endless verbal warfare and you have a cabal of terrorists attempting to derail the peace negotiations.
The Philippine countryside is littered with dead bodies and flows with the blood of soldiers, policemen and civilians killed by the NPAs.
There was no sincerity and the only treachery on the part of Joma with the NPA continuing to wage atrocities in the countryside against military, business and civilians even as past talks were ongoing.
Duterte’s last move to terminate the peace negotiation was precisely for the insincerity and treachery of the Joma and the NDF.
Nevertheless, Duterte has assured Joma and company with full security, just so the peace process could proceed.
Joma wants security if he returns to the country for the peace talks?
There is no room for retribution at this time of what could be the last and final dash to peace with the communists.
Duterte is footing the bill for the travel, hotel and food expenses of Joma and his coterie of NDF consultants. We guess that Duterte may even organize a warm welcome for Joma.
Joma wants a ceasefire?
There is double-talk in Joma demanding to sign of a bilateral ceasefire and discussions on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-economic Reforms (CASER), the two remaining contentious issues that the government and NDF panels will have to agree on before the talks could proceed.
Last year, panels of the government and the NDF were prepping up for the 5th round of talks, the final round in a series of talks abroad, that would have discussed the ceasefire and CASER.
Days before the 5th Round could start, the NPA, Joma’s peace saboteur, threw a monkey wrench into what could have been the last round of talks to signing a peace agreement: the terrorists carried out several attacks nationwide against the military, police and the civilian population. One of the victims was an infant killed when the NPA ambushed a police patrol in Bukidnon.
The treachery prompted Duterte to terminate the talks and declare the CPP and the NPA as terrorists.
Peace advocates say Duterte’s move to resume peace negotiations with the NDF is the answer to the call of millions of Filipinos.
The NDF itself said the coming talks would achieve a just and lasting peace in the country as it would address its agenda of economic, agrarian and urban reforms.
And we may see an end to Filipinos killing Filipinos and the barbarity and violence of the NPA with the declaration of a bilateral ceasefire?
Duterte has only one demand: the NPA should stay in their camps during the peace talks.
We can’t be sure if the terrorists would do that.
We should take a cue from the statement of the CPP on the occasion of the recent NDF 45th founding anniversary.
The statement called for the “broadest anti-fascist united front against the Duterte administration.”
“By waging revolutionary resistance, both in the urban underground as well as in rural armed struggle, the NDF helps strengthen the people’s determination to fight and defeat the despicable (Duterte) regime.”
This mantra of violence by the communists – mouthed since the founding of the CPP until today; before, during and after termination of the past peace talks; and could resonate even as Duterte resumes talks with the reds – spells out the communists’ ultimate objective to grab power.
Joma and his cabal could be playing a joke on Duterte’s resumption of the peace talks.
Will the peace talks this time fly? We are not sure.
But if Joma reins in his peace saboteurs – the NPA and the communist legal fronts and their leaders like Ariel Casilao and Kaloy Zarate – from sowing violence against the people and hurling vicious verbiage at the President and his administration.
If Joma does not do that, then he is the grand daddy of peace saboteurs.