We respectfully caution the Duterte administration over its move to reopen the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
While the declaration of Christmas truce and the prospects to reopen formal peace negotiations are acts of goodwill on the part of the Duterte government, demonstrating its strong political will to resolve the insurgency problem plaguing some parts of the country for the past years, we must be always reminded by the evil character and duplicitous nature of NDFP and its revolutionary organization, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).
Why the past peace negotiations sorely failed could only be blamed on the countless criminal acts and treachery of NDFP-CPP-NPA — displayed even during times when ceasefires were supposed to be in place.
As spoilers of peace, we believe that the Christmas truce will be used by the terrorist groups as an opportunity to regain communities previously cleared of their presence, consolidate their forces, and derail the progress of existing government rural development projects.
With this, we ask the Duterte government to exclude Davao City from the scope of the Christmas ceasefire with these terrorists. We also seek the same once the national government pursues the reopening of the formal peace negotiations.
We reiterate that these moves, however commendable, are useless and deleterious to the accomplishments of our local peace initiative, the Peace 911.
Peace 911 is a comprehensive peace-building program of the Davao City government for conflict-affected areas of the city. It is primarily focused in Paquibato District and Barangay Dominga in Calinan District, areas identified as stronghold of the NPA terrorists.
From June to December 2019, the program has successfully sprung Paquibato District and Barangay Dominga from the shackles of the NPA terrorists. Paquibato is dominated by Ata-Manobo natives.
The civilian-led peace group has opened roads and bridges, health centers, and schools. It also capacitated lumads by introducing Peace Economy, which helped farmers receive proper literacy on farming and marketing — linking them directly to buyers.
For the first time in many years, people were given access to government agencies and non-government organizations that could help in the development of their communities — the Cooperative Development Authority, Department of Trade and Industry, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Social Work and Development.
More and more NPA members and their supporters are also turning themselves into the government through the program.
To be covered by the ceasefire or the peace negotiations will only disrupt and threaten the gains of our process of peace and development in these communities formerly controlled by the terrorists.
For these terrorist organizations, sincerity is a strange word. To believe that they desire a peaceful end to the insurgency problem would be playing ignorant of their bloody habit — how they slaughtered countless civilians in the past and made many countryside communities suffer from poverty and underdevelopment, and blaming the government for it.
These groups manipulate and turn communities to rise against the government, propagate fear, inflict abuses, extort, and execute and murder civilians through its deranged brand of revolutionary justice.
These and more are the reason why these groups are called terrorists. And we should never negotiate with terrorists.