MALACAÑANG on Monday called on the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People’s Army (NPA) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to stop extortion and other hostile activities if it wants to resume peace talks.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella announced four conditions on the communists calling for a stop to the following: collection of “revolutionary taxes” or extortion activities, ambushes on military personnel, burning of property and provocative and hostile actions.
“While it is understandable that suspicions linger about the motives of the parties on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum, some compelling reasons need to be provided for talks to resume. Considering the unprecedented goodwill the President has shown, these [conditions]may provide compelling reason and could put at ease, to some extent, the apprehension of the military and the administration,” Abella said in a statement.
“When guns are silent, we can better listen to each other. We need the President’s vision for a peaceful, just and inclusively prosperous Philippines. He has already taken the first steps forward in good faith. We wait for [the NDFP]to respond,” he added.
Abella however called out the communists for demanding the immediate release of their 400 detained comrades, which the rebels claimed were already old and sickly.
“It may be pertinent to take note that the [NDFP] probably pushed the envelope too fast and too soon in demanding the full release of political prisoners prior to any signed agreement and for lifting the ceasefire ahead of their deadline,” Abella added.
In a separate statement, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said President Rodrigo Duterte was willing to negotiate a bilateral ceasefire pact with the Reds.
Dureza issued the statement after the communists expressed willingness to negotiate a bilateral ceasefire agreement and announced on Sunday the release of six government men held as “prisoners of war.”
Talks were initially scheduled on February 22 to 25 in the Netherlands, but Duterte cancelled all negotiations and a unilateral ceasefire on February 4 after a series of NPA attacks on military men.
The cancellation of the talks came after the communists junked their own unilateral ceasefire declaration because of the President’s refusal to free the 400 detained rebels.
“We welcome and respect the positive position coming from the leadership of the CPP/NPA/NDF. On the part of the Philippine government, we share the same commitment to work for just and lasting peace in the land,” Dureza said.
“When compelling reasons, as President Duterte earlier announced, are present, then we in government will take the next necessary steps,” Dureza added.
As this developed, child rights watchdog Children’s Rehabilitation Center accused state forces of escalating human rights violations in the government’s all-out war campaign versus the NPA.
Jacquiline Ruiz, executive director, said children in the countryside continue to live under siege. “We are very much alarmed that children continue to carry the heaviest brunt of military abuses in the countryside,” she said in a statement.