Philippines facing multiple threats: talks with communist rebels resume

Philippines facing multiple threats: talks with communist rebels resume

As the Philippine military fights ISIS-linked militants in the country’s south, government negotiators will descend on a Dutch town for

Photo: Ted Aljibe/AFP

Photo: Ted Aljibe/AFP

As the Philippine military fights ISIS-linked militants in the country’s south, government negotiators will descend on a Dutch town for talks with another separatist-minded group—the communist National Democratic Front.

At least 30,000 have been killed in fighting between the communist rebels and government forces since 1968, making it one of the longest-running unresolved conflicts in the world.

Tuesday’s declaration of martial law in the southern province of Mindanao, where the communist rebels maintain a presence, has seen tensions flare between the government and leftists. A message on the Communist Party’s website stated the “necessity of waging a revolutionary armed struggle [has] become ever clearer” following Duterte’s martial law announcement. A separate article added that the move would “further isolate” the president from the people. The head of the government negotiating panel labelled the statement a “false reading” of President Duterte’s intentions and reiterated his desire for a peace deal.

Elected to bring law and order to the restive country, Duterte is coming under concerted pressure to deliver on his promise. With instability increasing, the president risks tarnishing his image as a tough-on-crime strongman.