STRIKE HOME| Last bus to peace

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte is committed to it. The Reds knew or must have realized it by now. The GRP-NDF negotiations in Oslo without doubt represent the last bus standing on the way to peace, a rare opportunity that may never present itself in a more favorable circumstance.

Any way you look at it, it is a great balancing act on the part of the President who represents the government and the institutions he was sworn to protect.

At the crossroad is a homegrown insurgency that has claimed lives, disrupted the peace and stunted the countryside. Duterte is intent on bringing the matter to a closure for this nation to get over the hump.

Jose Ma. Sison’s followers may not have achieved even a fraction of the ‘strategic stalemate’ they have hinted at in the past, but they arguably remain a pain in the neck wherever they are found. Social injustice and the absence of government in the countryside have proved both fodder and recruiter in replenishing their ranks.

Feudalism indeed persists. It is there in the form of wide tracks of land apportioned by a few and the oligarchy that control the economy of this country. It is there in the uplands of the Cordillera with the state running roughshod over ancestral lands in the form of national parks, forest reservations and mining rights.

But it is not every day that one gets to see a President coming up with a blueprint in bringing about meaningful peace and change.

Quite characteristically, it is not also very often that one gets to see a chief executive reading what amounts to a ‘riot act’ to Jose Ma. Sison himself (or at least that is the impression we get):

“You want war? I will give it to you. But if you want peace, we will talk peace. Let us stop this nonsense of seeing Filipinos killing fellow Filipinos. Alam mo Lakay Joe, hindi na uubra ang strategy ninyo of surrounding the cities from the countryside. While the rich continue to amass more wealth, the poor could only multiply. More urban centers are emerging to engulf the countryside.

Isa pa, majority of the people are too poor to even think of revolution. They are flocking to the urban centers in search of opportunities.

Ano sa palagay mo kung bakit maraming taga-Lanao na mag-migrate to Luzon? Simple lang, widespread poverty and the need to survive.

At this point in time, it is only the government that is in a position to redress the situation by spreading economic opportunities to all. Pero, hindi ito magawa ng gobyerno kung cige’g magpang-harass ang inyong mga armadong sakop sa mga negosyo ug sa mga sundalo. The same goes for the MILF and the MNLF.

Kaya, lakay Joe, let us talk peace. Besides, kakaunti na lang kayo your numbers might not even be enough to fill up a pub in Oslo. At para magkaintidihan tayo lalo, andiyan si Bebbot Bello at Hernani Braganza na kapwa niyo Ilokano. Eh, ti kong Ilongo, ara dira si Dureza ug Arellano.”

In sum, Duterte’s balancing act entails keeping a tight grip on the various security establishments and institutions to ensure unqualified support. Any perception that his watch is keeling to one particular leaning is bound to create discordant notes.

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