• Reds to resume war

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    COMMUNIST rebels withdrew a unilateral ceasefire declaration on Wednesday and railed against the Duterte government for failing to honor its promise to release their detained comrades.

    They said, however, they would continue to talk peace.

    Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza was “dismayed” by the news but also said peace talks would continue, and the military and police would not lift orders to suspend anti-communist operations.

    Chief government negotiator Silvestre Bello 3rd admitted the government was surprised by the NPA move.

    “It is a surprise and an unpleasant surprise all the while because we have a scheduled meeting on February 22 to 25 in the Netherlands for the sole purpose of upgrading the existing unilateral ceasefire [of both parties]to a bilateral ceasefire agreement,” Bello told reporters.

    New People’s Army (NPA) spokesman Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos said the interim ceasefire declared by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA’s National Operations Command on August 28 last year “shall effectively expire on 11:59 p.m. of February 10.”

    With the lifting of the ceasefire, Madlos said NPA fighters would “counteract, frustrate and punish” all military operations in communist areas.

    He claimed it was possible to wage war while talking peace.

    “In our experience and in the experience of other peoples, it is possible to negotiate while fighting until the substantive agreements are forged to address the roots of the armed conflict and lay the basis for a just and lasting peace,” the NPA spokesman said in a statement.

    Madlos cited two reasons for ending the truce: the Duterte administration’s failure to release 200 rebel detainees, and the alleged military encroachment into rebel territory.

    He explained that the CPP-NPA issued the ceasefire on the understanding that the government would free political detainees within 60 days of August 28, the start of peace talks in Oslo, Norway.

    President Rodrigo Duterte has said he would not release the prisoners after giving concessions to the CPP, NPA and the communist political arm, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

    Madlos also alleged that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had “treacherously taken advantage” of the ceasefire to conduct “hostile actions and offensive operations” in areas occupied by the NPA.

    The military has “occupied at least 500 barrios (villages) which are within the authority of the revolutionary government” across 43 provinces that the NPA claims to operate in, he said.

    On January 21, he said, a firefight broke out as the AFP attacked an NPA platoon in Makilala, North Cotabato, resulting in the death of eight soldiers. “An NPA Red fighter was martyred,” Madlos said.

    The military has acknowledged the clash but not the casualty count. It earlier accused NPA rebels of violating their own ceasefire declaration in several incidents, including the fatal ambush of two soldiers in Isabela, a shootout with soldiers, and alleged extortion attempts on civilians.

    The peace talks in August 2016 were the first between the government and the rebels since 2013, when negotiations were terminated by then president Benigno Aquino 3rd.

    A third round of talks between the two parties ended in Rome, Italy last week with no deal on a joint and permanent ceasefire.

    Both sides agreed to meet for a fourth round of formal talks in Oslo on April 2 to 6. Officials dealing specifically with the ceasefire issue will meet sooner, in Utrecht in the Netherlands beginning February 22.

    Govt won’t lift ceasefire
    Dureza said he would recommend retaining the government’s own ceasefire declaration until both sides agree to a bilateral deal.

    But he will also recommend to the President that “government forces continue to be relentless in their campaign to protect the civilians from harm and terrorism.”

    “We agree that the situation, with various incidents on the ground, had become untenable to sustain without the guidelines and protocols that a bilateral ceasefire provides. This gives more impetus and encouragement to our earnest task of forging a sustainable ceasefire agreement,” he said.

    Bello pointed out that both sides disagreed on what constituted a ceasefire violation, as the unilateral declaration did not have clear parameters.

    “Right now, if the military went inside schools, you cannot technically consider that a ceasefire violation. In the same vein, the NPA burning equipment or a bus cannot also be considered ceasefire violation. That’s why we really need to come up with a bilateral ceasefire agreement so that you will be able to identify the acts that constitute a violation of the ceasefire agreement,” Bello said.

    The AFP said the suspension of military operations against the rebels will stay, but the military will continue dealing with incidents of extortion; burning of vehicles, farm and livelihood implements; and other criminal acts.
    The Philippine National Police said it would also continue to observe a suspension of offensive police operations.

    WITH LLANESCA T. PANTI AND FERNAN MARASIGAN

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    10 Comments

    1. Douglas O Rosete on

      PP NPA is projecting a position of strength . They have a bideen agenda. Their tendency is embarrass the government . They were never serious in going thru the road map to peace. Their negotiators are comfor oriented while their fighters on the ground are suffering in the mountains hence cannot be controlled . It seems they have their own autonomy or part of their grand strategy which is to flip flop. Maybe the Government should negotiate on the regional level where there are so called Regional Party units of the CPP NPA . As a prelude to federalism , the REGIONAL PEACE AND ORDER COUNCILS To initiate dialogues for the peace process but under the auspices of the OPAPP. Decentralizing negotiations may hasten the process in chartering a road map to a lasting peace.

    2. It seems this people can’t get enough of their GREED in life. An organization establish to disestablish the government and take advantage of its issues, are not the people who will negotiate with good intentions.

    3. I was already skeptical about this so-called peace talks from the very beginning. I knew from my gut that CPP will try to squeeze as much juice as it could from the extended hand of Duterte. I do not think the leaders wanted to meet somewhere in the middle, they wanted Duterte to go all the way. That is why this peace talk is a farce. I am convinced they used it to resurrect their ideology in the mindset of the Filipino people, and try to put back their imprisoned comrades on the streets to continue their vision long distance.

    4. aladin g. villacorte on

      I have often wondered why the government should still negotiate with the Left considering that its leaders have long turned their back on the Philippines? Joema has been enjoying a “privileged life” in the Netherlands since 1987 as a political refugee, lecturing and touring while living off government subsidies. Jalandoni has done a notch better – by becoming a Dutch citizen in 1985 and with his wife now calls Holland their home. Agcaoili, the NPA leader, was reported to have adopted Spanish citizenship.

      Together with the Tiamzon couple – the top brass of the Left can fit in a VW beetle car. I like to call them absentee leaders or better still arm-chair guerrillas who live a comfortable and secure life abroad while their comrades back home bear the brunt of the armed struggle. Thankfully, they’ve all reached the sunset of their life. Indeed give it more time and the insurgency will fade and eventually die. Its remnants will be reduced to banditry, roaming the jungles and hinterlands not looking for a fight but for innocent preys.

      In all sincerity, if I were the leader of the government panel I would demand as the first order of business that everyone on both sides of the table should pledge allegiance to the Philippine flag and to our Constitution.

    5. aladin g. villacorte on

      Fr. Conrado Balweg, a folk hero in the Cordilleras who died at the hands of his former comrades, had given us a clue as to why any peace talk with the CPP-NDF-NPA will not prosper.  “Talking peace with the Left is like talking to a wall,” he confessed in an interview.  “Their agenda is politics, not peace.” 

      They’ve been running rings around us for the past four decades. One thing is certain: The Left will still be represented by the same old faces, with the same rhetoric.

    6. You cannot trust those jokers. They are not sincere. They are simply a bunch of immorals, God-less, thugs whose aim is to simply create chaos in the society. Their ultimate goal is to make the Philippines a communist country. Period. They will not lay down their arms nor come to a peace agreement. They want power. That’s all.
      AFP, clean up these scourges and make them pay.

    7. Huh ? War while talking peace ? Is this a joke? C’mon guys do not kid yourselves. Do not fool the people. Talk peace one minute and stab each other back the other? Patience is the key here. And trust. Both sides may well take into account the so-called Murphy’s law: (1) It is not as simple as it seems to be; and (2) It takes longer than you think it will take. The CPP should really learn to be more patient and to trust President DU30. Rome was not built in a day. The reality is political detainees cannot be simply freed with a wave of the hand; there is a legal process involved. If there is one thing that we have learned, the President dislikes being rushed. Maybe the reason for this is that if things go wrong, it is he alone who will ultimately be blamed. His vision of the peace talks is to have a lasting peace where every member of the CPP will be able to freely walk the country, get jobs and live normal lives. Let us stop fighting each other. We are all Filipinos. .

    8. “Right now, if the military went inside schools, you cannot technically consider that a ceasefire violation. In the same vein, the NPA burning equipment or a bus cannot also be considered ceasefire violation.

      THIS IS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT…

      But in think rebel groups will not be honest about this ceasefire & peace talk. I believe they were not interested to any offer from our government. They will lure into this peace talk, what they want is to be independent, or be an autonomous.

    9. Bert O. Romero on

      It’s the government’s fault to give in too much too soon to the demands of the CPP/NPA/NDF without reciprocity. The government negotiators can be tasked for completely casting aside the basic formula – disarmament, demobilization and reintegration ( DDR) – observed and followed in other successful peace negotiations in Ireland, Nepal, Aceh , and most recently , Colombia. In a complete reversal of processes , the government immediately reintegrated well-known communist leaders into the fold of government without asking for reciprocal concessions. The NPA never dis armed much less demobilized. The ceasefire it announced was unilateral which can be withdrawn unilaterally anytime it wants to, as it has done. The government side didn’t have qualms negotiating with former Filipino citizens who have already acquired Dutch citizenship.

      In short, it appears the government negotiators are negotiating not for a peace agreement but for further government reintegration of CPP/NPA/NDF cadres , if not total government surrender. Requesting the US government to remove Jose Maria Sison from the terrorists list maybe the final laurel in Secretary Dureza’s cap!

    10. This is a proof that you cannot trust the NPAs. They now declared war with the government knowing, the government has just declared an all-out war with terrorist in Mindanao. Meaning, the AFP will be more focused on the Muslim terrorist and military resources for anti NPA use will be affected. (Reduced significantly). Therefore the NPA now can roam anywhere with less worry of encounter. Or can even intensify their attacks on known less guarded military installation/detachment.