In a press briefing last week, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the Philippine government is still willing to have a peace talk agreement with the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed group of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). This statement has been made despite President Duterte’s order to fight and “crush” terrorists of the country which, according to the government, includes NPA. He also added that the president took a firm stand on fighting with the opposing forces, especially those who fight in the armed conflict but it doesn’t mean that Duterte is not open for reviving the peace talk with this group.
“The President, as we always hear him, he always leaves a space, the window ajar for any peace negotiation with them but he will not allow the attacks, the assaults against our forces that is why if they attempt to do that, the order is to crush them,” Panelo said on Thursday.
In his speech at the 84th anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) the other day, December 17, at Camp Aguinaldo, the president said:
“Another enemy that’s ruining lives is the terrorists, including the NPA, the kidnap-for-ransom, and the Abu Sayyaf in Jolo. My order is, if they fight, crush them to put an end to Filipinos’ problem.”
Meanwhile, the Philippine News Agency (PNA) reported yesterday, December 18, based on a statement of a former rebel named “Ka Dada” in a forum at the Asian Center at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, that the CCP-NPA is not really sincere in having a peace talk with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) that’s why having one will not really solve the problems and it would only allow them for more exposure and chances for recruitments. Attended by numerous organizations, this forum was hosted by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) with former rebels as resource speakers.
According to alias Ka Dada:
“Basically, the CPP-NPA are just toying with the government. They act as if they also want peace for everyone. But the only peace for them is overthrowing the government and lead the country. That is why atrocities still occur even with the peace talks going on”.
Panelo also said that president Duterte has always been serious in having another peace talk with this rebel group. However, according to the spokesperson, the NPA keeps on attacking the AFP. In December 13, Friday, it was reported in different news outlet that NPA members launched another attack on the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), killing one officer and a 69-year-old woman while also injuring five other police men. The said attack happened in the afternoon around the village of Libutan in Borongan City, Eastern Samar, through an improvised explosive device. However, the reports are somewhat confusing as other outlet says it also killed 3-year-old boy, which was never mentioned in other news reports. Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights said announced that they will conduct an independent investigation concerning this incident.
About the said peace talk, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Joma Sison stated last Saturday:
“The NDFP negotiating panel can withdraw from the peace negotiations if and when these are being used by the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) merely to compromise and set up the NDFP and the revolutionary movement. Of course, there are big risks taken by the NDFP in agreeing to negotiate peace with the GRP and address the roots of the armed conflict by agreeing on social, economic and political reforms”.