AFP backs resumption of peace talks with leftist rebels
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - March 15, 2013 - 4:11pm

MANILA, Philippines - The military  is still hoping that the peace talks between the communist rebels and the government  would push through despite the recent verbal exchange between the two sides.

Armed Forces spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said they remain supportive of non-violent means to end the conflict with insurgents.

“We will continue to support the peace initiatives and peace-building efforts of the government,” Burgos said in an interview Friday. 

“We are very hopeful that our doors are still open to peaceful means to resolve conflict,” he added.

The military also renewed its call for the rebels to stop attacking non-combatants and soft targets like businesses, infrastructure and civilians. Burgos said such attacks affect the livelihood of local residents.

On Wednesday, the National Democratic Front (NDF) accused the government of scuttling what was supposed to be a historic meeting between its chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison and President Aquino.

The NDF represents the communist insurgents in the talks.

NDF said political affairs adviser Sec. Ronald Llamas proposed a meeting between Aquino and Sison, who is also the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The NDF claimed the meeting failed to push through due to the government’s refusal to release rebels who claim to be peace consultants.

Another issue that reportedly plagued the talks is the “government’s scheme of simultaneous, unilateral and indefinite ceasefires” which, the NDF said, would allow security forces to continue violence.

NDF said the proposed meeting between Aquino and Sison was just a “mere ploy or bait” to convince its negotiators to sign a government draft declaration in just one or two meetings.

“The GPH has deliberately refused to comply with its commitments in agreements forged with the NDF, despite the full knowledge that compliance would immediately break the impasse and cause the resumption of the formal talks,” NDF said.

The communists also slammed the government for  refusing to release their supposed peace consultants who are said to be covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

The agreement provides immunity from arrest to NDF peace consultants. Some of the alleged peace consultants are leaders of the New People’s Army who are facing criminal cases.

Malacanang denied NDF’s allegation, saying the talks were hampered by the “unacceptable conditions” imposed by the rebels.

“There were certain commitments that they want from us. Those are commitments that were not acceptable to the government,” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press conference last Wednesday.

Lacierda also defended Llamas from allegations that the latter spoiled the peace talks.

 

AQUINO AND SISON ARMED FORCES ARNULFO BURGOS JR. BURGOS COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE PHILIPPINES EDWIN LACIERDA GOVERNMENT JOINT AGREEMENT NDF PEACE
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