The government was dismayed over recent attacks of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Davao City and in Qurino province amid ongoing peace talks with the communist rebels.
In a statement, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza on Wednesday said these attacks put a question on the communist rebels’ sincerity and commitment to peace.
“We are dismayed that although peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF are now making some substantial headway, their forces still continue to wage attacks that victimize civilians and inflict damage on the civilian sector,” Dureza added.
CPP is the Communist Party of the Philippines, which is the political wing of the NDF, or the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, whose military wing is the NPA.
“Although a bilateral ceasefire is not yet in place, the public’s common reaction to these incidents questions the sincerity of those whom we talk and deal with across the table. The public also questions their capacity to manage and control their forces on the ground,” Dureza said.
The NPA on April 29 attacked the Lapanday Foods Corporation in Davao City and a local police station in Maddela town in Quirino.
Dureza said there were even “calls now to stop the talks altogether and pursue an all-out military offensive against their armed groups.”
“There is no doubt at all that our security forces–the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] and the PNP [Philippine National Police]–with the support of the civilian communities must and can deal with these contingencies,” he added.
But Dureza, also the government’s chief peace negotiator, said the government peace panel was determined to pursue the peace talks with the communist rebels.
“We who are tasked to seek a peaceful and principled settlement must pursue, with more vigor, these peace engagements with the communist rebels. Our expectation is that our unrelenting efforts in addressing the issues, bridging the ideological divide and finding a common ground may eventually pay off and bring about just, sustainable and enduring peace in the land,” he added.
“No doubt, the task is not easy, taking every necessary step, but we will continue. We will not yield in our resolve. We will not be deterred,” Dureza said.
The fifth round of talks between the government and the communist group is scheduled on May 26 to June in The Netherlands.
Dureza said the government peace panel led by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd is preparing for the fifth round of negotiations.
“The working committees of both sides have been meeting continuously in the country for the purpose,” he added.
Dureza said President Rodrigo Duterte’s aspiration was “to end this tragedy of Filipinos fighting Filipinos.”
“While he boldly deals with those who bring harm to the people, his dream is to bring peace through a just and principled settlement with all rebel groups in the land. Let us all close ranks and stay the course with him,” h added. CATHERINE S. VALENTE