Peace’d off

Perhaps Loren was trying to be all things to all people, as politicians are wont to do. That is her prerogative. In the end, though she become nothing to everyone. That is her misfortune.

September 12, 2022

One does not offer peace talks to an enemy — especially a violent one — when he is down and out, virtually defeated. Several wars, including the last World War, should have taught us that. Such parley will only be used by the disadvantaged party to buy time, regroup his forces, and strengthen himself. The victory of Mao Zedong against the Nationalist Forces of Chang Kai-shek is a prime example.

So, Senator Loren Legarda should not be surprised if a hail of brickbats came her way with such volume and vitriol that she was forced to backtrack from her call for peace talks with the communist rebels.

In this day and age of the Internet, where facts come hard and fast, a well-informed citizenry with access to a platform that allows their ideas easy access to thousands, nay millions, of readers while bypassing traditional media, will not take any misinformed or ill-advised pronouncements by any politician sitting down. The people are aware that the armed communist movement in this country is on its last leg. Widespread desertions and surrenders by cadres, the radically reduced representation of the misnamed “Makabayan” bloc in the legislature, and the almost-daily neutralization of high-ranking terrorists indubitably show that.

Yet here comes Loren, who has tried painstaking and over decades, to build up a reputation as a moderate whose strongest advocacy is the regreening of the Philippines — and even going so far as underscoring her position as a mainstream centrist by enlisting in the military reserve corps — suddenly calling for peace talks with the communist rebels. Not only that, she defended that violent ideology, saying that those who have different opinions (like the commies) should be respected and listened to.

And just like that, in one fell swoop, the carefully-cultivated image of political moderation was blown to smithereens. Taking cover from the mushroom cloud of exceedingly strong public disapproval, she almost immediately issued a “clarification,” saying she denounces all forms of violence and, adding in the same breath, that what she wanted with the terrorist Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army all along was “peace” after a negotiation “in good faith.”

But then, here’s the problem: The armed communists have never negotiated — not once — in good faith. They would constitute a “peace panel” composed of all their highest-ranking comrades, especially those with warrants for such despicable crimes as mass murder and terrorism, secure a deferment of all criminal actions against such dastardly acts, and sit down with the government with the end in view of one thing: Gaining a breather while their rank-and-file in the mountains continue to shoot and kill our soldiers and policemen. The eloquent endorsement by leftist groups of Loren’s call for peace talks speaks volumes of who are to benefit from such a skewed arrangement.

For Loren, it was an epic fail. Had only a few called her “naïve,” it would have been an opinion. But thousands, including influencers like the quotable Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, means it is a universal condemnation. Her apparent failure to recall that the CPP-NPA has been identified by legislation as a terrorist group, legislation she herself participated in crafting, made the blunder even bigger.

Perhaps Loren was trying to be all things to all people, as politicians are wont to do. That is her prerogative. In the end, though she become nothing to everyone. That is her misfortune. Or maybe she has, by some quirk in her nature, revealed her true colors to a public who were led to believe that she was a voice of reason all these decades. If so, that is fortunate for all of us.

In the final act, Loren by her ill-timed and misinformed acts gained nothing and lost almost everything. It will take a while for the mainstream voters to forget — if they will — what she did and said. By calling for peace with terrorists, she only got her political base peace’d off.

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