Reds vow to ‘walk extra mile’ to forge peace

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BAGUIO CITY: Communist guerillas are willing to “walk an extra mile” if only to forge a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the Philippine government (GRP), the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said in a press statement.

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While criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte’s “unfulfilled peace vows,” the CPP denounced the continued detention of over 400 political prisoners and the President’s continued deployment of combat troops in rural communities “despite having ordered a ceasefire, resulting in rampant military abuses against the peasant masses.” However, the statement said the CPP is still supporting the National Democratic Front (NDF) negotiating panel’s effort to forge a bilateral ceasefire agreement “with clear provisions protecting civilian communities from so-called civil-military operations which shall take effect upon the promised release of all political prisoners.”

Utmost patience
Communist guerillas, CPP and NDF members claimed it repeatedly displayed patience in engaging the Duterte regime in peace negotiations, amid alleged delays and unfulfilled promises and false statements.

But in the spirit of building amity with the Duterte regime, the CPP said, the revolutionary forces have exercised flexibility amid the GRP’s failure to satisfy the original expectation of releasing 430 plus political detainees before October 26 through a presidential amnesty proclamation.

It even bent backwards in the interest of preserving the reciprocal ceasefire declarations, the New People’s Army said, while “carrying out evasion maneuvers in the face of treacherous AFP offensive and hostile operations and military abuses by Duterte’s armed troops within the sphere of NPA guerrilla zones and bases.”

Already 110 days old, the declared NPA ceasefire, is yet the longest, “showing the extent of the revolutionary forces’ willingness to boost efforts to forge cooperative relations with Duterte who once declared himself a Leftist and socialist.”

Meanwhile, on December 26, the CPP’s 46th founding anniversary, the CPP will hold a national assembly in a guerrilla zone somewhere in Davao City, the President’s hometown. Simultaneous mass demonstrations will also be held across the country inside and around guerrilla zones and revolutionary areas. The CPP urged those desiring for a just and lasting peace to join and support these demonstrations.

The CPP also called on its members and member organizations under its umbrella to “organize peace marches and caravans to press the Duterte regime to fulfill its peace vows and comply with agreements, particularly, the demand to free all political prisoners and to terminate or suspend Oplan Bayanihan operations.” This while inviting representatives of the Duterte regime to attend these demonstrations “in order to hear for themselves the people’s outcries for peace.”

While citing the release of NDFP consultants and the very positive outcome of the first round of talks, the revolutionary forces, the CPP added, “were encouraged by his patriotic proclamations, particularly, the policy statements declaring an independent foreign policy and threats to end US military presence and joint military exercises and to abrogate the bases agreement (EDCA).”

While acknowledging also that there are “anti-people and undemocratic policies (of Duterte), citing the starkest — the alleged growing number of extrajudicial killings “instigated by Duterte and perpetrated by police forces and by an apparent network of death squads.”

Also, besides ordering the AFP to continue with its Oplan Bayanihan the CPP condemned President Duterte’s order to the military to give former strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr. a hero’s burial “in a display of utter contempt for the Filipino people who suffered gravely under martial law.”

No change?
The desire for change boosted by Duterte’s promises remain largely unsatisfied, the CPP said, in yet the strongest statement yet of the leftist group. “He has also perpetuated the neo-liberal economic policies (low wages and flexible employment, social cutbacks, privatization of public services and others) of the past regimes which has caused widespread misery to the Filipino people.”

It also cited Duterte has stepped back and reaffirmed “friendship and alliance” with the US and has agreed to let the US military conduct more than 257 military exercises in the Philippines by next year. “Clearly, Duterte has chosen to tone down and backtrack his earlier anti-US rhetoric to secure the support of the US-beholden AFP.”

In the face of Duterte’s unfulfilled peace vows, the CPP further cited, “his closing ranks with the US and the AFP, and continuing military operations and war of suppression in the countryside, the unilateral ceasefire declaration issued by the CPP has become increasingly untenable to maintain.”

But its forces, the CPP vowed, “can further go the extra mile and await the realization of (Duterte’s promises) until the third round of peace talks on January.

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