#AnimatED: Love in the time of Duterte
It ended as swiftly as it began – the ceasefire between the Duterte government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – that one wonders whether both sides were prepared for it in the first place, or at the very least were aware of what it required.
President Rodrigo Duterte and the CPP have known each other intimately for at least 3 decades, since the former mayor of Davao struck a modus vivendi with the guerrillas to keep his city safe. In exchange, Duterte espoused the rebels’ advocacies, brokered the release of their many “prisoners of war” over the years, and helped them in any way he could.
Both understood and embraced extreme measures, like two peas in a pod, except that one worked within the bureaucracy, the other in the periphery. Which is why both knew that if there’s any chance of forging a lasting peace, it is now, with this president, with this movement.
But the talks broke down as quickly as the dining table was set in Malacañang last September for the historic breaking of bread between the former mayor and guerrilla leaders.
What we’ve seen and heard in the last couple of weeks was a fiery exchange of words between President Duterte and the CPP, like a quarrel between old friends who had come to the negotiating table full of hope, goodwill, and a sense of familiarity.
What went wrong? We need not bang our heads to find the answer, for it's a simple one: the loss of face between friends.
The President feels he lost face after going out of his way to keep his word – appointing leftists in the Cabinet, ordering the military to stop fighting, and allowing the early release of political prisoners before any substantial agreement is reached.
The CPP feels it lost face, too, after going out of its way to keep faith in this president – muting its protests amid a virtual global condemnation of the government’s war on drugs and being in bed with a leader who buried Ferdinand Marcos at the heroes’ cemetery and constantly sings praises for the dictator and his heir.
It’s the height of naiveté – or hubris – for either side to have thought that this peace process is simply about keeping one’s word or banking on good faith. The Philippines isn’t Davao City. The CPP isn’t just Joma Sison, even if he thinks otherwise. And the government isn’t just Duterte, even if he thinks otherwise.
They should have known better, having worked with each other for long. Instead, we saw them commit the same mistakes and blunders that past peace processes had suffered.
Precisely because of the CPP’s personal and political ties with the President, the current peace talks should not be business as usual. The process needs not just rebooting; it demands a new operating system.
The CPP should stop treating the talks as a mere tactical step in its protracted people’s war. It should drop all illusions of winning through the armed struggle. The rebels should assume that Duterte has dealt long enough with them to know when they’re pulling his leg.
On the other hand, the President – or any president for that matter – should stop treating the talks as a trophy to buttress one’s political capital. Duterte should stop taking it personally, for neither the world nor the insurgency revolves around him. He should assume that the rebels have dealt long enough with him to know when he’s bluffing his way through.
So enough of the slogans, the fire and brimstone, the big and ambitious promises, the short-sighted, tactical goals that have marked previous negotiations.
The reality is, since the peace process began after the euphoria of the 1986 People Power Revolution, some aspects of it have drastically changed: the public is no longer as invested in it; the rebels have fought for far too long; the military has grown fatter but also wiser; and the peace bureaucracy – built over the years – has already put mechanisms in place that can facilitate the process to its logical conclusion.
These are the immediate realities that the Duterte peace process has to navigate, not the presence of so-called spoilers, as if both sides do not harbor them.
What the future requires is as clear as day: for both sides to reimpose the ceasefire, resume the talks, and see this through beyond the issue of losing face and beyond the old mindsets that have made all previous attempts at peace unsuccessful.
Otherwise, they have everything to lose. And no amount of mutual love can ever make them get that back. – Rappler.com