Public trust in communist rebels dips as talks falter – SWS

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 22) — Public trust in the communist movement has eroded amid faltering peace talks with the government, results of a nationwide poll show.

Private pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) said the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) got a net trust rating of -10 or "poor" for the first quarter of this year.

The NDFP has been in negotiations with the government to end the communists' 48-year-old insurgency in the country, the longest running armed-rebellion in Asia.

Of 1,200 respondents in the latest March 25-28 survey released June 20, almost four in 10 or 38 percent said they have "little trust" in the NDFP, against 28 percent who said they have "much trust." The survey has a margin of error of ±3. 

Compared to a little over a year ago, the NDFP's latest net trust rating dropped by 18 percentage points from the its historic positive rating of +8 in June 2016. This happened as peace negotiators sent by then President-elect Rodrigo Duterte opened preliminary talks with the NDFP to begin July 2016.

The March 2017 survey was conducted as the government and rebels agreed to resume the peace talks, a month after Duterte withdrew from the negotiation on February 4, calling the NPA terrorists who were "killing his soldiers."

The CPP-NPA got a "poor" net trust rating of -27 this March. Almost five in 10 or 48 percent said they have "little trust," against a meager 21 percent who said they trusted the communist group. This is a drastic drop from the -5 net trust rating they received a little less than a year ago in June 2016.

But NDFP chief political consultant Joma Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Wednesday said "those who own and control the SWS" cannot be trusted and as they have been "poisoning" the peace talks.

"Those spreading distrust for the revolutionary forces are trying to spoil the peace negotiations and inflame the civil war. They harp on the point that the revolutionary cannot be trusted and that the reactionary state must continue to carry out an all-out war policy," Sison said in a statement.

The SWS said its survey was non-commissioned.

The Duterte government is the sixth administration to talk with the NDF in a bid to end the longest-running armed rebellion in Asia, aimed at overthrowing the government and replacing it with a "national democratic" state. It suspended peace talks in May, citing the communists' pronouncement they will intensify attacks against government forces amid the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

SWS first surveyed public trust in the rebel movements and armed groups in the 1990s.

They have received negative trust ratings through the years, except in June 2016 when the NDFP got +8.