A peace and conflict studies expert says President Duterte has given peace talks with the communist rebels a chance, but a security analyst believes the commander in chief’s “incoherent policy” has resulted in casualties and has even given the Left a “strategic advantage.”
In Cagayan de Oro City, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma and other religious leaders have urged Mr. Duterte to revoke Proclamation No. 360, which formally terminated the peace talks with communist rebels.
“I think that he (Mr. Duterte) gave the peace process a chance,” said Dennis Quilala, a University of the Philippines professor.
Quilala said Mr. Duterte had initiated several confidence-building measures, including releasing top Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leaders, like Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, and declaring unilateral ceasefires.
But Francisco Ashley Acedillo, head of the Institute of Policy, Strategy and Developmental Studies Inc., was critical of how the administration carried out the negotiations.
Mr. Duterte initially opened the administration’s doors to the Left, appointing some of its members to his Cabinet.
Acedillo said this and other moves had given the Left a “strategic advantage,” including consolidating its forces.
But after more than a year in office, Mr. Duterte ended the talks, citing continued New People’s Army (NPA) attacks.
The NPA has about 3,800 fighters, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr.
“It is impossible to obliterate them,” said Acedillo, a former military combat pilot, referring to the NPA rebels. “The government has to give them a chance to lead peaceful lives.”
In a statement, Ledesma and members of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) asked Mr. Duterte and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to “resume peace talks, for a better …future awaits those who seek peace.” The NDFP is the political arm of the CPP.
Aglipayan Bishop Felixberto Calang said the resumption of the talks was the best option for peace. —With reports from jigger J. Jerusalem and Allan Nawal
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