The recent order of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for the military to be “peacemakers” in dealing with communist rebels somehow confuses some concerned citizens, hence the need for clarification on what he really means.

Surely, there is nothing wrong with offering the rebels “life after their life as rebels”. The previous administration has done that, with those hundreds and thousands of communist rebels and supporters that returned to the folds of the law and were given cash and other assistance for them to start a new life.

It’s not quite clear what the president means by the military having to act now as “peacemakers”. Is he going to allow the revival of peace talks? For sure, communist groups and organizations would welcome it. They have been demanding it since former President Rodrigo Duterte abolished it accordingly for lack of sincerity on the part of the rebels who were just exploiting the peace talks to strengthen their armed struggle.

On the part of peace and law-abiding, pro-democratic citizens, however, such a declaration is worrisome as it implies that the military would again be soft and tolerant in dealing with the rebels like they did during the reign of the liberals. In that case, the insurgency would regain everything it had lost, or even grow stronger in the future. That would also mean losses of what we have gained in these decades of armed conflict.

Understandably, the president is just being conciliatory to the enemies of the state. But the problem is, such a gesture may just work to the advantage of rebels, whose ultimate aim is to overthrow the democratic form of government. More likely, they will merely take advantage of it, to the government’s loss. Yes, we offer our arms to welcome those who return to the folds of the law, but those who don’t should be dealt with militarily, armed as they are.