The so-called “protectors of the masses” have struck once again to viciously put an end to the lives of two of their former comrades who had recently returned to the folds of the law. 

Reynante Lloren and Joel Canatoy, both Higaunons and residents of Butuan, were mercilessly gunned down by assailants believed to be allied with the New People’s Army. 

Both had recently surrendered to authorities after realizing they were merely being exploited by the Reds to promote their twisted brand of ideology and wreak havoc on the populace. 

Lloren, 19-year old, was shot while being processed in a government-managed halfway house. Canatay likewise met the same fate in the hands of insurgents garbed in military-style uniforms. 

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process condemns in the highest degree possible this brutal and merciless killing of individuals who made the decision to live peaceful and productive lives. 

By all indications, the violent deaths of the victims bear the indelible mark of the group which will use any means possible to dispense its revolutionary brand of justice. 

Clearly, the perpetrators’ intention is to strike fear in the hearts of people and silence the voices of those who are knowledgeable with the underhanded tactics it employs. 

And now they are questioning President Rodrigo Roa Duterte decision to terminate the peace negotiations with the leadership of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines?

Let us turn the tables around and ask them: How can you deal with an organization whose principles are highly dichotomized; where the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing?

How can you negotiate with a group where while its leaders were talking peace with the government, its armed wing were mercilessly shooting down our soldiers? 

For 32 years, the Philippine Government has employed all possible means in order to find a peaceful settlement to the communist rebellion. 

When the President assumed office, he extended his hand of friendship to the rebel group to demonstrate his sincerity in putting an end to the decades-long armed conflict. 

The Chief Executive even appointed members of the insurgent organization into his cabinet, while freeing a huge number of their top leader consultants, including the Tiamzon Couple, so they could participate fully in the peace negotiations. 

But there has been no sign of reciprocity on the side of the insurgents. In fact, the peace talks have been a one-sided affair where the sincerity of the government  has always been taken advantage by the NDFP panel.

It is time to put an end to this lopsided situation. The government is taking a whole-of-nation approach to put an end to their dastardly acts.

If this insurgent organization is honest in its desire to negotiate peace, it must first show its sincerity in doing so. At this stage, their underhanded strategies will no longer work. 

We expected the deaths of Lloren and Canatoy to elicit an outcry from left-leaning groups which have been very vocal in condemning the government for its anti-insurgency campaign.   

But so far, all we have heard is silence. We earnestly hope that this silence is a cry of justice for the victims and not because of how these organizations believe justice must be served.

May Lloren and Canatoy inspire others to follow the path of peace they had chosen; a path that will finally put an end to the communist insurgency and unite Filipinos under one nation. ###