AFP to continue pursuit of communist rebels
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - June 17, 2013 - 7:01pm

MANILA, Philippines - The military will continue its operations against communist rebels after the National Democratic Front (NDF) said that it might just wait for President Aquino to step down before returning to the negotiating table.

Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said they would not allow the insurgents to launch attacks that would jeopardize public safety and development.

“We will continue our focused military operations against them (rebels) because they continue to do a lot of atrocities not only to the Armed Forces of the Philippines but to the people themselves,” Zagala said in a press briefing Monday.

“They (also) destroy peace and development projects,” he added.

Zagala said while they uphold the primacy of the peace process, they would stop efforts by the rebels to sow fear among the public.

“Our main objective really is to end all armed conflicts through peaceful means but in the absence of peace talks, we will continue our efforts to end the armed struggle through other means,” he said.

Zagala said they are ready to help the rebels who want to surrender and to live peaceful lives.

Earlier, NDF negotiating panel Luis Jalandoni said they would just wait for Aquino’s term to end and continue the armed struggle if the government does not honor previously signed agreements.

The NDF represents the communist rebels in the peace negotiations.

Jalandoni demanded that the government comply with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), which provides communists working as peace consultants immunity from arrest.

“If the Aquino government continues to refuse, then the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) continues with revolutionary struggles throughout the country and is willing to wait out the three years left of the Aquino regime,” Jalandoni said in a video interview posted on the NDF website.

The peace talks between the government and the NDF hit an impasse over differences on the rebels’ demand to free communist leaders facing criminal charges.

The NDF said the jailed communist leaders should be released since they are covered by JASIG.

The government, however, pointed out that the NDF has no way to prove that the jailed rebels, especially those using aliases, are peace consultants.

Government negotiators said representatives from both panels went to The Netherlands in July 2011 to verify whether the jailed rebels are covered by JASIG.

They agreed to open a sealed envelope stored in a safety deposit box kept by the parties eight years ago in a bank. The envelope was supposed to hold the photos and aliases of the consultants.

The envelope, however, did not contain actual photos of alleged NDF consultants using their aliases, but only diskettes allegedly containing photos that could not be decrypted.

The government claims that the NDF scuttled the talks by setting several preconditions.

Jalandoni, however, denied this, saying they are merely calling for the implementation of signed agreements.

Last April, government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla said the government is considering a “new approach” to peacefully resolve the conflict with the communists.

“We cannot wait forever for the other side if they continually refuse to go back to the negotiating table without preconditions. The government will be taking a new approach to pursue peace,” he said.


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