Senators Panfilo Lacson and Antonio Trillanes 4th backed the decision of the government to suspend peace talks with communist rebels but noted that the government should not stop there.
The government cancelled the peace negotiations on Sunday after the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) ordered its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to intensify its tactical offensives against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) following the declaration of martial law.
Lacson pointed out that the NPA stepped up its attacks even before President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao.
“The NPAs have noticeably stepped up their offensive attacks against our security forces and even civilians, mostly business establishments primarily to terrorize and extort money in pursuit of their so-called progressive taxation, even before the (martial law) declaration,” the senator said.
Lacson added that it would be illogical for the government to continue to have peace negotiations with leaders of the CPP and the National Democratic Front (NDF) who themselves admitted not having any control over the NPA.
“In view of these realities, the government’s peace panel should review and possibly reconsider finding the right group to talk to,” he said.
Trillanes also supported the decision to cancel the peace negotiations.
“The communists have been taking advantage of the talks by consolidating their ranks and attacking government troops,” Trillanes said.
Apart from suspending the peace talks, the senator said government appointees who have links with the CPP should also be removed.
He was referring to Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano and Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo who he claimed were using their positions to further the cause of the CPP-NPA.
Professor Ramon Casiple said suspending formal talks with the CPP-NDF is the only decision the government can make.
Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER), said that the CPP is not only overreacting to the declaration of martial law, but is also opportunistic.