The government’s chief lawyer has asked the courts to order the arrest of consultants of the National Democratic Front (NDF) over criminal charges, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the cancellation of peace talks with communist rebels.
Solicitor General Jose Calida said he would move to “cancel all bail bonds of NDF consultants, order their arrests, and recommit them to their detention facilities.”
He pointed out that the temporary freedom granted by the courts to consultants of the NDF, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), existed on several conditions. These include the automatic cancellation of bail once peace negotiations are terminated.
“[T]hey can now be arrested and recommitted to their respective detention facilities,” Calida said in a statement.
On Wednesday, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said back-channel talks with the NDF in Oslo, Norway were cancelled after the New People’s Army (NPA) attack on a Presidential Security Group (PSG) convoy in Arakan, North Cotabato.
The attack of the members of the NPA, the CPP’s armed wing, resulted in the wounding of four PSG officers.
Several NDF consultants were released on bail ahead of the resumption of peace negotiations last year.
These include CPP leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon who were arrested during the Aquino administration. They have pending multiple murder and kidnapping charges before the Manila and Quezon City regional trial courts.
‘Strongman’s act of bad faith’
The CPP immediately condemned Duterte’s decision to cancel the talks.
In a statement, the CPP said Duterte “no longer has need for peace negotiations with the [NDF] amid waging a triple war of death and destruction under its US-supported martial law rule” in Mindanao.
The order to rearrest NDF consultants, it said, was in violation of existing agreements – the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
“It is a strongman’s act of bad faith aimed at bullying the [NDF] to bow to his terms of surrender,” it said.
Duterte, the CPP claimed, “continues to lay the foundations for authoritarian rule under US imperialist tutelage.”
“He is completely intoxicated with martial law powers. He is mistaken in thinking he can suppress the Filipino and Bangsamoro people and their revolutionary forces in their resistance to the oppression and exploitation by the ruling oligarchy and their US imperialist masters,” it said.
“Duterte, however, is succeeding only in stoking the broad masses of the Filipino and Bangsamoro people to unite, wage mass struggles and armed revolutionary resistance.”
Duterte imposed martial law over Mindanao on May 23 following the terrorist attack on Marawi City by Islamic State-linked fighters, which the communist rebels have vowed to resist.
The CPP claimed “[h]undreds of people daily are joining the Party-led revolutionary mass organizations among workers, peasants, youth, women, as well as among the national minorities and Moros.”
“They are supporting and joining the NPA across the country. Tempered by its experience in waging people’s war, the NPA is ever capable of resisting martial law and strengthening itself,” it claimed.