Palace: Borongan ambush casts doubt on rebels' sincerity in pursuing peace talks
The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Palace: Borongan ambush casts doubt on rebels' sincerity in pursuing peace talks
Alexis Romero ( - December 16, 2019 - 8:17pm

MANILA, Philippines — Last Friday's deadly attack on police personnel in Eastern Samar cast doubts on the sincerity of communist rebels in pursuing peace, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the rebels should refrain from committing violent acts if they really want to talk peace with the government.

"If the NPAs (New People's Army) really want to talk then they should stop what they are doing. When you do that, your sincerity is in question with respect to peace talks," Panelo said in a press briefing.

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

RELATED: NPA attack on civilians condemned

Panelo could not say how the ambush in Eastern Samar, which was carried out using an improvised explosive device, would affect the resumption of the peace negotiations.

He said he has not spoken with President Rodrigo Duterte on the matter.

Duterte had earlier disclosed that he is sending Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to meet with CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, now chief political consultant with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines that represents the rebels at peace talks, as a "last card" for peace.

RELATED: Bello to meet Jose Maria Sison in Duterte's 'last card' for peace

The attack, which took place at Barangay Libuton in Borongan City, left a policeman and an elderly woman dead and at least ten others, including an infant, wounded.

The incident happened a week after Duterte announced that he is ready to revive the peace talks with the communists. The president terminated the negotiations in 2017 after the rebels launched successive offensives against government forces. 

In a press release on Monday, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. condemned the December 13 attack "in the strongest terms."

"This latest attack act runs counter to the Duterte administration's efforts to find a peaceful solution to the communist problem," Galvez, a former Armed Forces chief of staff, said.

"As the government tries to address the roots of the insurgency, the rebels continue to mount attacks. This is deplorable," he said.

RELATED: DND, AFP vow to beat Reds despite peace talks

Peace talks between the government and the NDFP were restarted in 2016 but began to break down in early 2017.

Duterte told government peace negotiatiors in July 2017 to no longer pursue formal talks. The decision was in response to NPA attacks, including an ambush on a Presidential Security Group convoy in North Cotabato.

In November 2017, Duterte signed Proclamation No. 360 terminating peace talks altogether. 

The government has been pursuing what it calls "localized" peace talks and has been calling on communist rebels to lay down their arms and join a government program to bring them back to mainstream society.

The CPP-NPA has disputed reports by the government that thousands of rebels have surrendered and entered the program.

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