This is worrisome!

If statements from both government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) are to be taken at face value, the peace process between them is dead! But we have no reason to doubt their truthfulness. They were speaking in their respective official capacity.

For peace-loving people, especially civilians, this is worrisome. This means, in the absence of peace process, the flip side is war. And in war, the civilians will suffer, as well as properties damaged or lost.  

But truth to say that except during the time of the late President Corazon Aquino in the 80s, there had never been a formal ceasefire between government and the NDFP. The latter had never agreed to such, except on very limited durations, mostly unilateral declarations, especially during Christmas.

We have no way to find out the reasons – and we don’t interfere. We are not adopting a position to criticize and evaluate things based on our perspective. That to us would be unfair. We respect their respective decisions, especially of government.

But we have been following up the GPH-NDFP peace process for decades with utmost diligence, and we have come to almost definitive conclusion that finding a compromise solution, as all negotiations are, is almost nil and absent. The final objective of the NDFP/CPP/NPA, i.e., to overthrow the government, change its system, and replace all the men and women in government, cannot be the subject of negotiation. No government will ever agree to such proposal. Only a final victory through armed struggle can effect such a reality. But the Philippines is not Vietnam or China, which were most rural areas and the outside supports were almost limitless.

But there is still a ray of light in the current impasse or termination. First, it does not mean that when a peace talks collapses, it cannot be revived anymore. Termination or revival is at the behest of the parties. And second, the staying power of the parties determine the long-term possibility of ending the conflict in the negotiation table.

For the moment, which has the upper hand, government or the NDFP/CPP/NPA, in the protracted warfare?

In full guerrilla warfare, the NDFP/CPP/NPA can survive and possibly inflict heavy casualties on the government. But certainly, they cannot win a decisive military victory through conventional means. That means, it is still a long travel for them to reach that level, if ever they can. On the other hand, government has hard time conscripting or containing the communist insurgency, because the people still have much grievances to grind against it. They still enjoy some degree of support from the people especially among the indigenous tribes in Mindanao. In fact, around 70% of the NPA guerrilla force are recruits from the indigenous tribes.

For the moment, let us just cross our fingers and hope for the best in the future.