Duterte's 'no more peace talks' declaration not a surprise — CPP

Artemio Dumlao - Philstar.com
Duterte's 'no more peace talks' declaration not a surprise â CPP
The New People's Army marked its 51st anniversary on March 29, 2020.
Photo courtesy of Visayas Today / Nonoy Espina

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — The Communist Party of the Philippines on Tuesday said it is not at all surprised at President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration that government will no longer go back to peace talks with communist guerrillas.

The government ended formal peace talks in November 2017. In March 2019, Duterte again announced "the permanent termination of our talks between the government panel and the Communist Party of the Philippines."

Marco Valbuena, CPP information officer, pointed out that the government has had an "all out war" policy since 2017 and said it had been spending on military equipment instead of addressing the needs of the people.

"Duterte wasted an opportunity to unite the country under a broad humanitarian front to confront the COVID-19 pandemic," Valbuena said, adding the National Democratic Front—the rebels' representative at peace talks—had made it clear that the rebels were ready to talk and to work together to address the public health crisis.

He added that clashes between the military and the New People's Army "are the result of the [Armed Forces of the Philippines]'s 'sugod nang sugod' policy," implying that troops rush headlong into conflicts. 

The CPP information officer claimed that, in most cases, counterinsurgency operations are done in the guise of relief operations related to COVID-19. Referring to an April 19 offensive on an NPA camp in Himamaylan, Negros Occidental, Valbuena said: "Were they securing the Department of Social Welfare and Development by being somewhere ten kilometers away from where the aid was being distributed?" 

The CPP spokesperson said that the military has deployed troops in more than 400 barangays in 150 towns since March 16 "with orders to wage total war against NPA units in their areas."
He claimed that "the policy of the NPA is to facilitate, not prevent, the entry of relief and assistance for the people." 

Duterte said in an address aired Monday night that there will no longer be any peace talks between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDFP, citing reports of rebel attacks on soldiers conducting COVID-19 relief operations.

"There is no more peace talks to talk about. I am not and will never be ready for any round of talks," the president said, saying also that the rebels do not fulfill their promises.

The CPP has ordered a unilateral ceasefire until April 30 in response to a ceasefire that Duterte ordered at the beginning of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon. The government ceasefire has since lapsed and military operations against the communist rebels have resumed.

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