Narrow house

Duterte’s latest bet: “Give up, get land, get a house”

At the start of his final three months in office, President Duterte apparently realized he was far from delivering on another of his 2016 campaign promises: to achieve peace and end more than 50 years of armed conflict. with the left underground revolutionary movement. Much earlier, he had admitted to failing to deliver on two other promises – to end persistent problems with illegal drugs and corruption.

Twice this month, he called on members of the New People’s Army (NPA) to surrender, offering as a reward land to farm and a house for each surrenderer.

Last Tuesday, Duterte said in his regular videotaped address to the nation:

“Sabi ko sa mga komunista, lumabas na kayo, kung may panahon pa, basta malista kayo o kasali sa agrarian reform, ito may sarili kayong bahay, may sariling lupa. (I say to communists get out now while there is still time, once you are listed or included in land reform you can have your own homes, your own lands).

However, he hastened to qualify this statement by explaining: “We cannot afford to give land to everyone because it is up to the communists (to incite them) to return to the folds of the law”.

Indeed, his vow at the start of his term to fully implement the now defunct Comprehensive Land Reform Program (CARP) has turned into a veritable counter-insurgency ploy. Duterte aborted the final signing of a draft joint agreement on land reform and rural development between the two groups during the GRP-NDFP peace talks in June 2018.

It was essentially a repeat of his earlier message on March 17 to a gathering of alleged New People’s Army (NPA) members who reportedly surrendered to the government in Leyte. He was quoted in a news report as saying then:

“Tell that to those crazy people who are still fighting against the government. Tell them the mayor [referring to himself] urges you to surrender…before I resign…”

Additionally, in his recorded speech on Tuesday, Duterte called on the public not to join communist rebels, whom he accused of conspiring with members of opposition political parties whom he did not specifically name. He said:

“Inuudyok ko lahat na, ‘wag kayo sumali diyan in the rebels kasabwat yung myembro of the political parties in the kabila.”

“I’m not ready to name the names, or the name, can mga partido na run by someone running for president, and yes, they play into the hands of the communists as well. I think they were infiltrated,” Duterte added.

Was Duterte feigning discretion, when on March 13, the NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict), which he leads as president, violently attacked Vice President Leni Robredo?

In an official statement, signed by spokeswoman Lorraine Badoy and posted on the NTF-ELCAC Facebook page, the task force blatantly accused Robredo, the opposition presidential candidate, of “pretending that they have not concluded a pact with the devil, the communist terrorist CPP-NPA-NDF” and to form a “tactical alliance” with the latter.

Three separate complaints were filed with the ombudsman last Wednesday against Badoy, for violation of the anti-corruption law and the code of conduct for public officials. She recklessly red-labeled Robredo, the Makabayan Coalition and the lists of progressive parties supporting the Leni-Kiko tandem, said the 26 individual plaintiffs, who were represented by Antonio La Viña and Rico Domingo as legal advisers.

Yesterday, leaders of the Makabayan coalition and its party list representatives in the House, citing election propaganda and violations of the omnibus electoral code, also filed a sworn complaint before the Election Commission against Badoy and nine NTF officials. -ELCAC.

The complaint was also based on the March 13 official NTF-ELCAC statement mentioned above. His broadcast, “in the nature of fake news”, the plaintiffs said, was intended to campaign against the various candidates mentioned, and “to intimidate the general public into refraining or abstaining from participating in the campaign rallies of the targeted candidates” or casting. their votes for them.

Using government-owned equipment and other resources, according to the complaint affidavit, the respondent officials – without citing any basis – accused the plaintiffs of direct links to suspected terrorists and to a supposed revolutionary overthrow of the government.

In addition to the omnibus electoral code, the plaintiffs pointed out, Badoy and his fellow NTF-ELCAC officials, through their published statement, “primarily” violated the 1987 Constitution. They cited Article IX (B), which states: “No officer or employee of the public service shall engage, directly or indirectly, in any electoral campaign or partisan politics”.

Despite widespread criticism and the demand for the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC, President Duterte is stubborn. On Tuesday, he expressed hope that the next administration will continue what he started through the task force.

Coincidentally, Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana spoke on Tuesday about the NTF-ELCAC during the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Philippine military.

“I still remember… maybe four years ago, when President Duterte told us to get it over with. [the communist-led insurgency] and not let the next administration inherit it,” Lorenzana recalled. “So we worked hard.”

He credited himself, along with Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and National Security Advisor Hermogenes Esperon Jr. (both former AFP chiefs), with drafting Executive Order No. 70 in December 2018 , which created the NTF-ELCAC. Lorenzana boasted, “(it’s) actually the best campaign plan or method we’ve come up with in a long time.”

Thanks to the working group, he said, “we are closer [to ending the insurgency].” He did, however, admit that the Department of National Defense had expected to ‘finish the job’ by early 2022. But it turned out to be a ‘huge order’, the defense chief conceded .

Reason: “The enemy is deeply embedded in all sectors of society and it takes a little longer to neutralize it.” This awareness of the real situation shows us how the NTF-ELCAC’s highly militaristic approach to the protracted armed conflict has been unjust, narrow-minded, socially divisive and extremely costly in human lives.

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Posted in Philippine Star
March 26, 2022