By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy
Another year is about to end and as usual each year, the government and the National Democratic Front and its New People’s Army, are again on a ceasefire status. The word, “ceasefire” however, has mainly lost its importance because hardly had the words come out of the communist mouth or that of the government and the shooting begins. This annual ritual goes around and around with nothing achieved except that people die and the leaders of the contending groups blame each other. The carnival merry go ‘round is at least predictable in that it ends at a scheduled time. The ceasefire does not end the fighting and the victims’ grief for a moment. Nobody is happy with that.
This annual ritual gives the words of both sides little value and the perfunctory way they do this seems that they really did not mean what they said. I think they know that the other party will violate the truce when the opportunity presents itself. After all, there is no sanction whenever the other party breaks the agreement.
The communists are the losers. Its leadership is aging and in not so distant future they will either must let go of their positions or they will pass into the next life to face their Creator and account for the countless lives lost in their quest for power. I don’t see the Philippine government capitulating to accommodate them. Time is on the side of the government.
The demands of the communist are beyond the competence of the government to give no matter who runs the presidency. The communists, from their earlier demands, want power-sharing but that would be tantamount to surrendering to a group that does not represent the Filipino people even as they claim they are fighting for the masses. The fact that the communists are losing ground and cadres and no longer in the same level of strength as during the last days of martial law indicates that they no longer have a large following even in the legal front.
An example of this is the showing of candidates that are perceived as allies of the communists. Most of them really are not; they are just vocal in fighting for justice and the welfare of the masses. However, the communists ever since took a ride on popular social issues and the government responded by wrongly labeling dissenters as communist especially when the issue involves social and economic justice.
The communist will soon have to change leadership. The septuagenarian leaders in their comfortable living in Europe have already begun to lose control. While they agreed to a ceasefire, their troops in the field break the rules by attacking government forces or launching attacks on civilians.
President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the elimination of the communist rebels as well as the separatists of Mindanao, another group that contributes to the lethargic development of the island. This is not new – almost every president had ordered the same although the style of President Duterte is different. But whatever the style, the order had the same effect – failure.
And so, we keep on with the merry go ‘round, the swings and wheels keep on turning with a predictable outcome – the problem remains without a clear sign that they will be solved.
The communist insurgency and Islamic terrorist wars have become a war of attrition or in the common parlance a case of matira ang matibay – the stronger prevails, whoever perseveres wins.
The communists have already lost much of its strength and, as the military has charged, they have resorted to extortion to survive. This method is counterproductive. It creates more enemies but is the only recourse of the insurgents. On the other hand, the military has learned its lessons in dealing with the people in the rural areas and that makes for friends.
We now rarely hear of soldiers committing atrocities while we hear of communist assassinations. Who wins in this tactic of war?
Somehow, the circle of violence and counter-violence must end. Sadly, the government now assured of public support has hardened its approach to the communists and the communists, fearful of appearing weak, refuses to budge.
Defective as the holiday ceasefires are, at least they give hope that at some point in time the firing will cease before the year 2020 ends. Someone and something must yield to reality.