Former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo is optimistic that President Rodrigo Duterte continues to be open to sitting down with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratric Front of the Philippines (CPP-NDFP) regardless of unleashing a barrage of profanities in opposition to Leftists in his July 24 State of the Nation Address (SONA) and scorched-earth assault on communist icon Joma Sison.
“The door remains open for the continuation of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. Duterte hasn’t shown any significant change in attitude and ways of relating to the leaders of the open Left despite some tension in the tone of their recent conversations,” stated Ocampo in his column in Philippine Star.
“This was palpable during Duterte’s dialogue, a few days before the SONA, with the Bayan leaders, the Makabayan bloc progressive partylist representatives, workers’ and peasants’ leaders, mass leaders from Davao City and representatives of the Lumad in Mindanao,” stated Ocampo.
Duterte raised the extent of assault in opposition to the CPP-NDFP after members of the Presidential Security Group had been ambushed by the New People’s Army and Sison referred to as him a “bully” when he ordered the suspension of all talks with the Leftists.
Ocampo took in stride Duterte’s harsh remarks in opposition to the CPP-NPA on the SONA noting that his determination to fulfill rallyists after his speech confirmed that he has not completely shut the door on peace negotiations (Duterte had alerted his safety about his plan to step on the protesters’ stage even earlier than he began his SONA speech).
“Although fiery speeches highlighted the ‘People’s Sona’, Duterte’s surprise appearance and frank talk may have deterred the protesters from burning his war-mongering effigy,” stated Ocampo.
“Given the tense atmosphere, his going straight to the protesters and speaking candidly was an unprecedented surprise move on the President’s part,” stated Ocampo who felt this assembly was “more dramatic and more politically meaningful” that his dialogue with rally leaders in Malacanang a 12 months in the past.
Ocampo stated that Duterte nonetheless trusted the Leftist members in his Cabinet – Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Agrarian Reform Secretary Paeng Mariano, and National Anti-Poverty Commission Secretary Liza Maza – sufficient to ask the protesters to air their grievances with their representatives in his administration.
“In fact he authorized Maza and Mariano to act as consultants to the GRP panel during the last two rounds of formal negotiations on social and economic reforms. Those rounds have made significant advances particularly on agrarian reform. That’s one compelling reason to continue the peace talks. Get on with the back channeling,” stated Ocampo.