MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has slammed the doors shut on the possible resumption of peace talks with communist insurgents because they have reneged on their commitment to observe a truce amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte was left with no choice but to rule out the peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) following the series of attacks waged by its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), against government troops.
“Ang problema, ang CPP-NPA, nag-deklara ng unilateral ceasefire na hindi nila mismo sinundan. So, ano ang alternatibo ngayon? Wala na tayong ibang alternative kundi itigil na nga po ang ceasefire na iyan (The problem is the CPP-NPA did not honor its declaration of ceasefire. So, what’s our alternative now? We have no other choice but to stop the ceasefire),” Roque said in a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4.
In a televised public address aired Monday night, Duterte said he was no longer keen to hold another series of peace talks with the CPP’s political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF) because NPA rebels have “no respect” for government forces engaged in relief work amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
Roque said CPP founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, who is on self-exile in the Netherlands, could not even control the members of the communist movement in the Philippines.
“Kasi wala namang kakayahan na ipatupad ni Joma Sison yung sinasabi niya on the ground. At wala po talagang isang salita itong kalaban nating ito (Joma Sison could not control his men on the ground. Our enemies also do not know how to honor their word),” he said
Duterte on February 6 expressed optimism that his administration would be able to attain lasting peace with the communist group at a “much earlier time.”
In his previous speeches, Duterte also hinted that he might give in to the CPP’s demands in a bid to realize long-lasting peace in the country.
However, the President on Monday night said he would never be ready for another round of peace talks with the communist party.
Duterte’s latest statement came after the recent attacks by NPA insurgents against the military and the police.
During the “Laging Handa” program, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Duterte had given the CPP many chances for the revival of peace negotiations but the communist group keeps on committing violations.
“Ang nangyayari, tuwing mag-a-attempt na sisimulan ulit, ’pag nagkaroon ng peace talks, nagkakaroon ng ceasefire, nagkakaroon naman ng violations doon sa panig ng CPP-NPA na tinatawag natin ngayon na communist terrorist group (Every time there are attempts to revive the peace talks and a ceasefire is declared, violations are committed by the CPP-NPA, which we now call a communist terror group),” Esperon said. “Kaya hindi mo talaga mapagkatiwalan bigyan ng ceasefire (That’s why you can’t trust them on ceasefires).”
On April 16, the CPP extended its declaration of a nationwide ceasefire until April 30 to prioritize the fight against Covid-19.
Duterte, however, did not reciprocate the extension of the government’s truce, which expired on April 15.
The peace negotiations between the national government and the NDF have been intermittent since 1986.
On Nov. 23, 2017, Duterte inked Proclamation 360, which formally ended the peace talks with the NDF due to the NPA rebels’ relentless attacks against government troops and civilians.
The termination of peace negotiations was followed by the Dec. 5, 2017 signing of Proclamation 374, which brands the CPP-NPA as a terror group.
Apart from the Philippines, the CPP-NPA has been listed as a terror organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. (PNA)