‘Gov’t remains open to peace talks with Reds’
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - March 31, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The government is ready to resume peace talks with communist rebels, especially if the National Democratic Front (NDF) wants informal talks in May this year, according to Malacañang.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) must try to assess the situation in light of   realities that an armed struggle to pursue an ideology is no longer viable.

“The government remains open on the peace talks,” he said.

“We will just consult and refer the matter to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process because they have the primary mandate on that.”

Presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles said the signing of the Bangsamoro comprehensive peace agreement will put more pressure on the CPP to forge peace with the government.

“The signing of a peace agreement and the settlement of armed conflict with any other group... certainly, exert certain pressures on any of the armed movement that is not yet moving along those lines,” she said.

“Does good progress on one peace table make the other side weaker? Well, I guess, in the balance of thinking including all of the pressures that I talked about earlier, then certainly, there is more pressure on them.

“It’s how people look at them, it’s how people’s expectations are shaped. It’s how people will make demands that if this can be done here, in what has certainly been a very difficult peace process, why can’t it happen with you as well?

 â€œSo certainly, the signing of the peace agreement puts pressure on everyone. It puts pressure on us to deliver but it puts pressure on other armed groups as well to look for, to work with government in partnership to look for solution that can work.” 

However, Deles said they will not use the peace pact with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to force other rebel groups to make peace with the government.

“There is no intent to use the MILF to help run after groups or particularly, ideologically,” she said.

Deles said the national government remains open and optimistic to forging a pact with communist rebels.

“I think whatever happens to the other tables never diminishes the importance of a positive development on any of the tables,”  she said.

“With regard to the difficult table with the CPP-NPA-NDF, our position remains the same. We have said that we would like the peace negotiations to resume. We would like peace talks to resume on the basis of a clear, doable, time-bound agenda. And we certainly remain hopeful that within this administration, there will be leaders on the other side that will also come to the same conclusion.

“It has been the policy of this government to try to bring just and peaceful closure to all of our problems of armed conflict, and certainly we have been moving very well on some of the tables and some with much more difficulty.” 

Military aiming for NDF spokesman

The military hopes to capture NDF Mindanao chapter spokesman Jorge Madlos, who was last sighted in Surigao del Sur.

Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya,  Army  4th division commander, said Madlos is a likely candidate to replace Benito Tiamzon as CPP chairman. 

“He has been in the underground for so long so he will be a candidate, but he is not necessarily (Benito’s successor) because he is already old,” he said.

Madlos is believed to be operating in Eastern Mindanao.

Visaya said the campaign against Madlos and other rebels is continuing.

“He (Madlos) cannot hide forever,” he said. “There will come a time that we will catch him.”

Finding someone who often stays in the mountain  can be challenging, Visaya said.  – With Alexis Romero



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