Contrast is a compelling tutor. Compare the track records of talks for peace by Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Communist Party of the Philippines. Both were intractable insurgencies.
In Sultan Kudarat, MILF, World Bank and UN signed “Fasttrac” or “Facility for Advisory Support for Transition Capacities”. Based in Cotabato City , this three year project will pool skills, training, research and expertise for MILF and government. That’s needed in dismantling the flawed Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
In ARRM’s place, they’ll cobble Bangsamoro in southern Philippines. Priority agenda item is to craft a “Basic Law” that embodies aspirations of communities across the new body, noted MILF chair Al Haj Murad. “Fasttrac” follows President Benigno Aquino’s creation of a Transition Commission in December 2012. The commission is now fully staffed.
These steps staunched the bloodshed. Over 150,000 died in Mindanao fighting. Conflict gutted the island’s potential to be the nation’s breadbasket. ’“We must learn to live together as brothers,” Martin Luther King wrote. “Or we are all going to perish together as fools”.
In contrast, the bid to end the 44-year old communist insurgency collapsed. U-turns by the National Democratic Front “killed” the Netherlands talks, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
NDF leaders proposed, in December 2102, a “special track”: a draft declaration on peace without preconditions. But in Feburary 2013, NDF jettisoned it’s own initiative . Instead, it lobbed in three new documents. They’d backpedal into the old “Regular Track” — which floundered for over 27 years now.
Government should free detained consultants, NDF demanded. In addition, programs like Pamana; Oplan Bayanihan, plus the Conditional Cash Transfer Program be scuppered.
CCP will bail out 3.5 million poor families this year, World Bank reports. These grants keep kids in school (96 percent attend classes), get health check ups, etc.. Seven out of 10 mothers have medical attention. Now, the commissars in Utrecht would dump these kids and moms.
“Are we talking to the right people?” wondered government negotiator Alex Padilla… Do local communists leader agree? Or is there a disconnect between communist leaders here and those half a world away?
The President thus seeks a “new approach”. Government may instead pursue localized peace. It wants a “time-bound and agenda-bound” talks. That’d enlist help of local leaders and civil society groups.
CPP fielded 26,000 armed men at it’s peak. “People Power” reforms here, party internal purges and sleaze, interlocked with collapse of communism worldwide. These whittled down rebels to less than 4,000 today.
The party “withered and splintered”, Australian National University ‘s Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet wrote in “Philippine Human Development Report.” Ideological quarrels and policy disagreements, after “Edsa One” toppled Marcos’ dictatorship, “contributed to splits and splits-within-splits”. These persisted into the 2000s”.
Studies in Mindanao, Negros, Nueva Ecija and Cordillera found most guerrillas and supporters “have neither been CPP members…nor seekers of a communist run state”. Some sought redress from abuse. Most struggled for rights to land and human living conditions.
Some guerrilla groups, in recent years, peddled protection in exchange for cash and other payoffs. “Customers” range from corporations, gambling and drug syndicates, government agencies and large landowners, PHDR notes.
Rebels torched an AlterTrade truck, blocked it’s exports of sugar and bananas, after the Bacolod company bucked a P30-million “tax”. In Bondoc peninsula, NPAs backed landlords who coughed up “taxes, instead of defending farmers, wrote Inquirer’s Solita Monsod. Viewpoint dubbed this drill as “Have Gun, Will Travel.”.
There’s no mention of a permit-to-campaign fee” in the NPA apology for their attack on 78-year-old Gingoog Mayor Ruth de Lara- Guingona and companions, wrote Inquirer’s Randy David…“But that is what this is about.” Indeed, the Guingona assault came at an NPA roadblock collecting “revolutionary taxes”, Inquirer’s Conrad de Quiros pointed out.. “The NPA calls it tax, everybody else calls it extortion.”
These unelected collectors fleece “taxes” wherever their guns reach. They decide who to clip, how much, when and how. They make no financial reports. “Taxpayers” have no say on how their pockets are to be picked. Dissenters are clobbered with truck burning, equipment wrecking, even salvaging.
Time and history meanwhile moved on. Despite a Manila May 1 rally displaying posters of Marx, Stalin to Mao, communism is in history’s dustbin. “It is glorious to be rich,” Den Ziao Peng said. Aging rebel leaders Jose Maria Sison and Luis Jalandoni (a Dutch citizen) wage “People’s War” by fax Internet to Twitter, from comfortable ramparts of Holland. Why not from North Korea?, critics snipe.
NDF’s contact, let alone control, over NPA units in backwaters here, are tenuous and crumbling. Loot from “permits to campaign” is not shared. Collapse of negotiation means CCP remains black-balled in the terrorist organizations roster, kept by European Union , US and allies.
The compelling tutor is contrast. Step by painful step, into ploughshares by MILF and government. There are fewer widows. Evacuees are returning, farms cleared of mines and kids flock to school..
That too can be within reach for CCP — only it moves beyond yesterday’s apparatchiks and today’s buccaneers.