The National Democratic Front (NDF), which groups the mainstream communist organizations in the country, needs to issue a clearcut statement that they want to reopen peace negotiations with the government.
Palace deputy Spokesman Abigail Valte made the announcement as the NDF, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing New People’s Army (NPA) marked the 45th anniversary of the communist movement on Saturday.
“Last year, they [CPP-NPA-NDF] released a statement that they don’t want to engage in peace talks anymore. Now, there are saying it differently. That is something that should be a concern to them in the sense that they should have clear messages, at least, for the public,” Valte told state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
In a statement this week, rights group Karapatan warned that the arrest of NDF consultants Benito and Wilma Tiamzon will jeopardize the talks between the government and the communist groups.
The NDF insists that the Tiamzons’ arrest violated the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
The government countered that the NDF cannot invoke the JASIG because peace negotiations between the government and the NDF had been called off.
“On the side of government, we have always expressed willingness to sit down and to talk. We have always asked the CPP-NPA-NDF to come up with a clear-cut agenda for the talks.
This is a formula that has worked for us in several other negotiating tables and I think we’ve proven that the government can be trusted when it comes to negotiations,” Valte pointed out.
She cited the case of the government’s negotiations with the former separatist group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which resulted in the signing last Thursday of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
“Talking with the MILF has also been very difficult in the past, but the MILF was able to see that the government is really sincere in pursuing peace. At the same time, the MILF presented legitimate demands and these were granted by the government,” Valte said.
The agreement will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a Bangsamoro Region. It also provides four annexes on transitional modalities, power sharing, wealth sharing and the decommissioning of MILF combatants.
“We need to be reasonable. We also faced a lot of challenges during our peace talks with the MILF but we overcame them. We’ve always been a believer in good faith when it comes to peace talks and we have shown it en route to the signing of the peace agreement [with MILF],” Valte said.
“It’s on the leadership on the CPP on what they intend to do. As for the government, we have always subscribed to peace negotiations as a way to put an end to their struggles and advocated peaceful means to settle any dispute,” she said.