The Rodrigo Duterte government should concentrate on surviving the next three years rather than be preoccupied in trying to wiping out the New People’s Army (NPA) by 2022, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said.
Even with a reset deadline, government military and police forces will surely fail in destroying the revolutionary army, Sison in a statement said, adding it is Duterte who may already be out of office by 2022.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairperson explained the military and the police cannot accomplish in three years what they failed to accomplish in 50 years.
“The scheme will surely fail from day to day, week to week, month to month and from year to year as the NPA will intensify tactical offensives and mass work,” Sison said,
Instead, Duterte himself will have difficulty surviving politically, he added.
“These are lameduck years for him, during which infighting among his followers will be debilitating and challenges will rise from within the ruling system as well as from the revolutionary forces,” Sison said.
Department of National Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters Tuesday the government hopes to wipe out the communist guerrillas in three years.
In the press briefing, Lorenzana admitted that defeating the communists could not be accomplished within the year, as earlier predicted by Duterte.
In September, President Duterte’s said the government would win the war against the NPA by the second quarter of 2019.
Former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff and now Presidential peace adviser Antonio Galvez in November echoed Duterte’s statement that the military will eliminate the NPA by next year.
Lorenzana, however, said the prediction is a tall order even with increased military operations nationwide.
“We cannot do it this year because it is a huge problem. If you will recall, this insurgency has been going on for the past 50 years already and we cannot end it in one year,” Lorenzana said.
“Maybe, our target now should be in the remaining three years of President Duterte’s term. We can probably accomplish that,” he added.
Sison said Duterte should be blamed for wasting opportunities to sign peace agreements with the NDFP aimed at addressing the root causes of the armed conflict.
Duterte cancelled the peace talks with the NDFP in November 2017 and moved to have CPP and the NPA declared as “terrorist organizations.”
“Were the Duterte regime willing to engage sincerely and seriously in peace negotiations with the NDFP to address the roots of the armed conflict and make agreements on social, economic and political reforms, a just peace could be attained in less time than three years and at far less cost in contrast to the enemy’s futile military campaigns that are costly in terms of blood and public money,” Sison said.
“The problem with the Duterte regime is that it thinks peace negotiations are merely for the surrender and pacification of the revolutionary forces and that the sincerity of the NDFP is merely the willingness to surrender to the unjust ruling system of big compradors, landlords and corrupt bureaucrats like Duterte,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)