All out war and martial law
As disagreements with his drug war and his adulation of the Marcoses continued to fester, a third crack opened in February, when the NPA lifted its 4-month long unilateral ceasefire after several skirmishes with government troops. The NPA accused the AFP of encroaching on some 500 guerrilla fronts, terrorizing residents in NPA-controlled areas, and provoking armed clashes.
In retaliation, Duterte "cancelled" the peace talks and demanded a bilateral ceasefire agreement as a condition for further talks. His defense secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, followed through with a declaration of an "all out war" against the rebels.
Despite Duterte's insistence on a ceasefire agreement and a stop to the NPA's recruitment and collection of revolutionary taxes as preconditions for the talks, the 4th round of the talks still pushed through in early April this year. The peace panels on both sides agreed to sidestep Duterte's conditions just so the talks would continue. It was evident by this time that the national security cluster led by former generals Hermogenes Esperon and Lorenzana was dictating the government's handling of the talks. And Duterte, just like previous presidents, was primarily after the rebels' laying down of arms. Addressing the roots of the armed conflict would be a secondary objective, if at all.
In the weeks following Lorenzana's "all out war" declaration, rural communities in Mindanao, especially Lumad communities, were complaining about increased military operations in their areas. Human rights groups were documenting increased incidents of extrajudicial killings, aerial bombings of civilian communities, occupation of schools and other public buildings, threats and harassment from soldiers and paramilitary groups.
The last straw that finally broke the alliance was Duterte's declaration of martial law in the entire Mindanao archipelago and his accompanying acquiescence to US military intervention in resolving not just the Marawi siege, but other internal conflicts in Mindanao, too. It was clear from Duterte's Proclamation 216, General Order 1, and related issuances that martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus was meant to neutralize not just the Islamic extremists that took over Marawi but also the communist movement and their sympathizers in the island's rebel strongholds. This was articulated by both Defense Secretary Lorenzana and AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Año.
In reaction to Lorenzana's and Año's statements, the CPP ordered the NPA to intensify its tactical offensives against AFP units engaged in counterinsurgency operations under martial law. This in turn was used by Duterte as a pretext to withdraw from the 5th round of talks scheduled on May 27 to June 1, effectively scuttling the talks.
In fact, the government and NDFP peace panels were already in The Netherlands for the talks a few days after the May 23 declaration of martial law. The NDFP even offered to help the government in containing the ISIS-inspired Maute/Abu Sayyaf Group, an offer totally ignored by Duterte.
Duterte's insistence on his brutal and ineffective war on drugs, his adulation for Marcos, disdain for human rights, adherence to neoliberal economic policies, and scuttling of the peace talks would come to a head on July 24, 2017, the President's second State of the Nation Address (SONA).
After delivering his SONA to the usual clapping horde of sycophants in Congress, Duterte decided to go out and address the rallyists outside.
As he spoke before the mainly leftist crowd that had gathered for the People's SONA Protest in front of the Batasan Complex, he was met by a hostile crowd demanding for the changes he promised. Surrounded by a phalanx of Presidential Security Guards, he even dared the crowd to throw a grenade at him before leaving in a huff.
If not for his presence and the rain, his effigy would have been burned.
Rejection of leftist secretaries
The final nail on the coffin of the Duterte-Left alliance was the successive rejection by the Commission on Appointments of the NDFP-nominated members of the Cabinet.
DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo was up against legislators still smarting from her order not to allow members of Congress to dip their hands into DSWD funds like it were still their pork barrel allocations.
DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano, meanwhile, was fending off opposition from the country's biggest landords led by the Cojuangcos of Tarlac and Lorenzos of Davao.
Apparently, Duterte did not lift a finger to lobby for his appointees, thus feeding them to the raptors in the CA.
Taguiwalo's and Mariano's removal from the Cabinet, plus that of former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez, signals the end for any hope of meaningful reforms from inside the Duterte administration.
Today the dream is gone. The marriage is ended. – Rappler.com