The Marcos administration, which found on its front yard a 53-year-old communist insurgency, will continue localized peace talks with the rebels, a move immediately rejected by the Communist Party of the Philippines.
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity or OPAPRU finds peace talks with local communist commanders more effective than previous strategies, when top rebel leaders were given safe passes to roam around beyond being arrested.
We have seen such strategies for decades, at times the national government negotiators meeting up with CPP leaders abroad as though the latter had the same political muscle as the former.
We heard OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez say—and we agree with his thesis—that localized peace engagement has been an effective measure in resolving issues between the government and the communist insurgents.
We also read the statement of CPP Marco Valbuena that the “party … reject[s] the ‘localized peace talks’ of the NTF-Elcac,”—referring to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, a task force organized by the government to respond and raise awareness to the current communist rebellion in the Philippines.
Valbuena added the proposal is nothing but “a smokescreen for psywar (psychological warfare), pacification and suppression operations” of the military.
Earlier, National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos, who also serves as the vice chairperson of the NTF-Elcac, said the task force is recommending the conduct of localized peace talks.
Galvez has said the government had tried a national approach in peace talks in the past, but it “ended up to nothing” compared to local peace engagements, which he called “successful.”
This means the Marcos government will continue pursuing the localized peace engagement strategy rather than resume national peace talks since this is undoubtedly more instrumental in encouraging rebels to join the political mainstream.
We agree with Galvez’s assessment that, with localized peace talks, almost all front commanders are stepping down and, at the same time, this strategy has effectively empowered local leaders—barangay leaders, mayors, and governors.
The sound of his assessment reverberates: “The past 50 years, we have not done well in the national peace talks. Here at LPE, there is goodwill, trust, and confidence. We can see the authentic intentions of both parties to really come to peace.”
As of May this year, at least, as shown by Department of National Defense data, 26,414 communist rebels have laid down their arms.