‘All out war’ doesn’t solve insurgency problem — opposition candidates
The decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to cancel the peace talks and launch offensives against the communist rebels instead will not solve the country’s 50-year insurgency problem, members of the opposition’s senatorial slate said Monday.
Magdalo partylist Rep. Gary Alejano, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, and former Bangsamoro Transition Committee member Samira Gutoc said the government should look at other solutions if it wants to address the root cause of the problem.
“I always believe na the best solution to the insurgency problem is solving poverty itself,” former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said. “Hindi naman patayan ‘yong solusyon do’n sa insurgency (Killing people is not the solution to the insurgency problem).”
“Limang dekada na, ang insurgency sa Pilipinas ay talagang komplikado. Hindi malulutas ng Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas nang mag-isa ang problema (The insurgency problem in the Philippines has lasted for five decades. It is complicated. The Armed Forces of the Philippines cannot solve the problem alone),” Alejano noted.
Alejano also advised the administration to study the past and to understand the nature of the communist rebellion staged by the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
“Kahit anong habol po natin sa kanila, pagpapatayin po natin sila, kung ang root causes na social, economic ay hindi naa-address, hindi po matatapos ‘yan. Matuto na dapat tayo sa nakaraan, nagkaroon na rin ng martial law sa panahon ni Marcos, eh lalong lolobo ang hanay ng rebelde sa Pilipinas,” he said.
(No matter how we chase them or kill them if the root causes which are social and economic are not addressed, it will not end. We should learn from the lessons of martial law during the Marcos regime.)
On Monday, Duterte canceled the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), saying that government forces would go into a full-scale war with the reds instead.
On Tuesday, the President said he will create his own death squad — called the Duterte Death Squad — to fight NPA’s sparrow units.
Gutoc said the peace process should adopt a whole of government approach and should not merely rely on the desires of a single person.
“Never give up on the peace talks, we need to commit to the primacy of the peace process. It’s an institutional policy, not a prerogative. Make the peace process a government policy,” she said in English and Filipino.
Alejano, a former soldier, said the administration should accept that the reason why people join the rebellion is because of the government’s shortcomings.
“Ang nagrerecruit sa hanay ng rebel groups sa Pilipinas ay ang kapalpakan ng gobyerno, incompetence in government, abuses in government, lack of basic social services to the people,” he said.
(The government’s incompetence, abuses, and inadequate provision of basic social services are pushing people to join rebel groups.)
“Hindi po nagrerebelde sila just for the sake of rebelling against the government. Nagrerebelde po sila sa nakikita nila sa gobyerno,” he added.
(They didn’t join the rebellion just for the sale of rebelling against the government. They rebel because they see something wrong with the government.)
The lawmaker also said that some of Duterte’s policies, such as the war on illegal drugs, are actually big reasons why people want to fight the government.
He said the unofficial estimate is that around 30,000 have died from the war on drugs. If those 30,000 have at least five family members each, that would easily be 90,000 people with gripes against the government.
“Hindi ba sila, eh magiging subject sa recruitment ng mga rebelde dahil sila, hindi makakahanap ng hustisya sa Pilipinas? Hindi sila makapunta sa mga korte, kasi wala ngang pera, wala ngang kakayahan, hindi nga ma-ipalibing ang mga kamag-anak,” he said.
(Tell me why these people won’t be recruited by rebels — they can’t find justice in the Philippines and can’t go to courts. They have no money and can’t even bury their relatives.)
Gutoc then appealed to Duterte to prioritize and be patient with the peace talks, citing the long wait before the Bangsamoro Organic Law was enacted.
“Aside from strengthening the people’s faith in legal institutions, Mr. President, please recommit to the peace talks,” she said.
“Alam niyo ang Bangsamoro war has been on and off for forty years, eh mangyayari rin siguro sa CPP (You know, the Bangsamoro war has been on and off for 40 years. Maybe it will happen to the CPP, too),” she added. /ee
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