The people and church people are praying and resisting the Duterte regime’s tools, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), paramilitary forces and Duterte Death Squads and government civilian agencies that are on rampage to quell the revolutionary movement in the country.

The easy victims of these intensifying attacks are the leaders and members of the progressive and legitimate organizations like peasant organizations, youth organizations, churches and human rights organizations. These fascist instruments aim their guns at the legal organizations because they are unable to quell armed revolutionaries who are using the guerilla tactics.

The attacks to the legal and progressive organizations and some churches include surveillance, red-tagging, vilification, illegal arrests and detention with trump-up charges, extrajudicial killings, food blockades, hamletting and forced surrenders.  Memorandum Order 32, Executive Order 70, Oplan Kapanatagan are used to justify these attacks.

At present, Negros Island becomes the center of concern as the two provinces of this island are battered with AFP/PNP/paramilitary operations called Oplan Sauron. The militarization in Negros does not mean less intensified military operations than the whole Mindanao (still under martial law), the provinces in Samar and Bicol, Ilocos, Abra and other Cordillera and Cagayan Valley provinces, Mindoro Island and provinces in Southern Tagalog and Rizal province. Even in the National Capital Region (NCR), the AFP, PNP, with the assistance of ex-PNP Chief Sen. Bato dela Rosa, intensify their campaign in attacking progressive organizations and partylists. There are urban poor communities in the NCR where military units have been deployed, under surveillance and strict round-the-clock monitoring.

The Duterte regime through its minions are proposing to amend the Human Security Act that could allow the state forces to detain suspects for 60 days without charges. They are also proposing to restore the Anti-Subversion Law to criminalize dissent as giving aid to terrorists, aside from pushing for death penalty for convicted criminals and terrorists.

The Duterte regime’s intensifying attacks against the people are supposedly employed to counter the growth of the revolutionary organizations in the country.  The regime had charge progressive and legal organizations as “fronts” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The regime is trying hard to “deny” the CPP of support from the people—be it moral or material.

The regime, however, missed its target. The regime missed the point to solve the armed conflict.  The people’s sufferings, sacrifices and struggle cannot be solved with “counter-insurgency” activities because the root-caused of armed conflict is not really addressed properly.

The basic problems on landlessness among the peasantry and the backwardness of the Philippine industry, lack of public services, corruptions and foreign dictates or influences on the country’s internal affairs that set aside the welfare of the people, if not ultimately starve or kill the people, are the root-causes of armed conflict. The best option to resolve this armed conflict is through the negotiating table among the warring forces to address it from the roots and derive peace based on justice.

The people are calling to resume the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The people are praying and resisting against intensifying attacks of the Duterte regime.

The people are rejecting “localized peace talks” because it is one of the military tactics of its “counter-insurgency”. This form of “peace talks” aim for the “laying down of arms” of the revolutionaries without resolving the armed conflict. The problems must be resolved with comprehensive agreements signed by both parties who mutually also agree on the mechanisms of the implementation.

These agreements should resolve socio-economic problems like the rising cost of basic commodities, the low prices of rice for the farmers, water shortage and high cost of electricity, the eviction of more than 500,000 home-owners because of Build, Build, Build projects, the Lumad and Moro evacuations, the contractualization and flexibility of labor, the traffic at EDSA and other roads in Metro Manila and other urbanized cities, destructive mining, foreign control of the Philippine seas and even drug trades can be resolved with peace talks.

However, the stumbling block to peace talks is the reality that as present it is already terminated. The Duterte regime had ordered to cancel the peace talks between the GRP and NDFP. The regime dissolved the government negotiating panel. Its AFP and PNP arrested some of the NDFP consultants and continue to hunt the rest of the consultants.

The NDFP said it is willing to return to the negotiating table but “confident-building measures” must take place.

In the light of this besetting situation, the people including church people and some church leaders are also forging more unity, praying hard and strengthening their resistance against these intensifying attacks. Press conferences, prayer meetings and pickets, bell tollings, lobbying and delegations, marches and demonstrations are being held to raise our voices to stop the attacks.

It seems that there is no hope for the resumption of the peace talks during the present dispensation. However, all options are possible with God.  Thus, the prayer of the people must include the cry and call to God that the heart of Duterte will soften and consider the resumption of peace talks now.

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