President Rody Duterte should be admired for his persistence in reaching out to a discredited ideologue who can’t even muster the courage to face his countrymen in defending what he believes in.
In Rody’s latest offer for negotiations, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison can’t even trust who he talks with as he again forwarded his demand for a “neutral” venue.
Rody as expected rejected the condition as he issued a counterproposal with his “bare minimum” requirement that talks are conducted in the Philippines.
Sison has been living in exile in Utrecht, The Netherlands for so long that he continues to nurture the belief that he remains a relevant figure and that he creates a political sensation that warrants his arrest once he sets foot in the country.
On the contrary, Rody wanted the final years in his term to be a period for drawing in all the elements of society to contribute in his effort for sustainable progress.
He tried to draw in chief critic Vice President Leni Robredo by naming her the head of the anti-narcotics campaign, but she flubbed her chance as she took the dangerous path of letting foreign entities and her allies have access to sensitive information.
She even sought to acquire the list of high-value drug targets that elicited a warning from Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino to Robredo about telegraphing government moves to powerful drug syndicates.
Rody considers Sison in the same boat as Robredo since he is very vocal about instituting changes in society. Why not give him an opportunity to prove what he preaches?
Sison, however, is making it difficult for the process to even begin.
He issued preconditions aside from the neutral foreign venue for the negotiations, like the release from detention of elderly and sickly political prisoners and the safety and immunity guarantees of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultants in the peace negotiations that include him.
Guarantees for good faith, however, are not something for Sison to ask but rather for Rody to demand from the communist leader since past experiences showed that the interregnum was always taken advantage of by the rebellion.
Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, a former police chief, said peace talks for the communist movement are just a sham.
“Joma again offered to talk peace because their armed troops in the country are cornered,” De la Rosa said.
He said the revolutionary movement needed to consolidate its forces since a government campaign bringing down negotiations to localities has successfully diminished the number of armed guerilla units.
In December 2018, Duterte signed Executive Order 70, instructing the national task force mandated to end local communism to develop measures enabling local chief executives and directing local peace bodies to conduct local peace talks with communist insurgents.
“They need to enter other areas to recruit, consolidate, mobilize and replenish supplies,” he said.
“The government is sincere, but they always are the cause of the breakdown of negotiations because of their insincerity,” De la Rosa said.
Joma’s duplicity is too well-known among Filipinos primarily after the Plaza Miranda bombing in 1971 which he orchestrated.
Ask most Filipinos and their view would merely be an echo of Bato’s misgivings.