ZAMBOANGA CITY: Communist rebels have flatly rejected demands by President Rodrigo Duterte for them to sign a ceasefire accord, saying it is tantamount to surrendering to the government.
The President threatened to mount an all-out offensive against the New People’s Army (NPA) as soon as the crisis in Marawi City is over. Security forces continue to battle the Islamic State-linked Maute Group in Marawi where fierce fighting had stretch into its fifth month.
“Duterte’s demand for an NPA ceasefire while the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) conduct all-out war as precondition for peace talks is a demand to surrender. This is unacceptable. Duterte has lost all moral ground to make such a demand,” the Communist Party of the Philippines said.
Rebel leaders have accused Duterte of reneging on a promise to free some 500 political prisoners and grant them amnesty.
The NPA declared a unilateral ceasefire in August last year that lasted nearly 160 days as a response to Duterte’s commitment to free political prisoners, mostly NPA and CPP leaders and members, languishing in jails across the country.
“Duterte however wasted the goodwill of the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines, CPP’s political wing) when it failed to fulfill its commitment and took advantage of the NPA ceasefire to deploy his soldiers and conduct military offensives,” the CPP said. “In the face of Duterte’s tyrannical rule and triple war, the people clamor for the NPA to mount more and more tactical offensives. Victories of the people’s army inspire resistance amid widespread killings and the climate of fear imposed by the Duterte regime.”
It said the NPA has launched tactical offensives “to bring to account the Duterte regime and its soldiers and police for thousands upon thousands of “Oplan Tokhang” killings, the successive killing of peasants, national minorities and youths, military occupation of civilian communities, aerial bombings and shelling, the near-genocidal war against the Maranaos of Marawi, arbitrary arrests and detention and so on.”
The CPP said as proven in past peace talks, the negotiations with the Philippine government can proceed and make progress even while fighting continues. It added that revolutionary forces remain open to negotiations as a means to attain a just and lasting peace even as it wages war against the government.
“The negotiations, however, cannot be fruitful while Duterte remains obsessed with Oplan Kapayapaan and demanding NPA capitulation. The Filipino people and their revolutionary forces have waged close to 50 years of people’s war. They do not tire. They are determined as ever to wage revolution because they seek to end the unbearable sufferings of workers and peasants under the oppressive and exploitative system. He has roused the anger of the Filipino people and caused his increasing isolation. The revolutionary movement will surely outlast the US-Duterte regime,” the group said in a statement.
President Rodrigo Duterte abandoned peace negotiations with communist leaders in July following increased NPA attacks on government troops.