DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The resumption of peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines may happen in August or September this year, the Communist Party of the Philippines said Wednesday.
In a statement, the CPP said it “anticipates the fifth round of the peace negotiations to resume in two or three months providing sufficient time for preparations” by both Parties.
Read related story: GRP cancels 5th round of talks due to ‘lack of compelling reason’
The CPP said the Party acknowledges the statement of the GRP negotiating panel chief Silvestre Bello III expressing the government’s commitment to proceed with the peace negotiations with the NDFP.
“It is a welcome development and is well appreciated by the revolutionary forces,” the CPP said.
Bello’s statement came following the reiteration of the NDFP that it supports the Philippine government’s fight against terrorist organizations in Marawi City and other parts of the country.
Both the GRP and NDFP recommended not to launch attacks against each party’s military force to pave way for the resumption of the fifth round of talks which was stalled last May.
In its statement on June 17, the NDFP recommended to the CPP to order all other NPA units to refrain from carrying out offensive operations against the Army and the police “provided that the GRP order the AFP and PNP likewise to refrain from carrying out offensive operations against the NPA and people’s militia.”
The NDFP said this will enable all forces “to concentrate against Maute, Abu Sayyaf and AKP groups.”
Read related story: NDFP orders Moro group, NPA, to defend vs Maute, Abu Sayyaf
The CPP also said it acknowledged the reiteration of the GRP to adhere to previously signed agreements including the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), which enables NDFP negotiators and personnel to travel and participate in talks without threat of arrest or reprisal.
It also said that it acknowledged Bello’s declaration that the government will not to undertake offensive operations against the NPA.
But the CPP said their action on the NDFP recommendation “can be undertaken once conditions for it exist concretely.”
The CPP also called on the government to lift Martial Law in Mindanao to avoid further destruction of Marawi.
The CPP said government troops in Mindanao “remain on the offensive mode, carrying out reconnaissance, patrol and search and destroy operations against the NPA and the revolutionary masses.”
“According to the Mindanao-based commands of the NPA, AFP offensive operations against the NPA have heightened since the declaration of martial law and are currently ongoing in Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, Davao City, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Bukidnon, Maguindanao, Zamboanga del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and still other Mindanao provinces,” it said.
Latest skirmishes between government troops and the NPA were reported in Compostela Valley on Sunday, June 18.
In a report by Mindanao Times on Tuesday, June 20, two soldiers were killed while four others were wounded after an encounter with NPA fighters in Barangay New Barili, Maco, Compostela Valley around 11:26.
Another encounter was reported around 3 pm on the same day. The military said an undetermined number of casualties among the NPAs were hit by reinforcements from the Army in the same village.
A 30-minute firefight between members of the military in Barangay Sto. Niño, Talaingod Davao del Norte was also reported Sunday afternoon.
Two encounters between the NPA and government troops were reported in Cateel and Banaybanay towns in Davao Oriental over last weekend.
The first incident happened Saturday morning in Barangay Taytayan in Cateel where three alleged NPA members were killed during the encounter.
The second encounter took place in Barangay Causwagan in Banaybanay at 6:30 am Saturday.
The NPAs also attacked the police station in Maasin, Iloilo on Sunday which Malacañang condemned.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella called the attack “opportunistic.”
“First and foremost, it’s unfortunate that the NPA raid of the station inIloilo happened on the same day that the government reciprocated the NDF’s declaration to refrain from undertaking offensive operations in Mindanao. However, although the attack was not in Mindanao, the act was clearly, like we said opportunistic,” he said.
Abella said the NDFP should call on the NPA to show genuine sincerity on the confidence-building measure initiated by both parties.
“So basically, we want a firmer response,” he said.
But the NDFP said Abella’s statement was “baseless, unfair and unwarranted.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Fidel Agcaoili, NDFP peace panel chairperson said there was no ceasefire in place between the forces.
“What is in place are recommendatory gestures of goodwill by both Parties to refrain from carrying out offensive operations against each other’s forces in Mindanao,” he said. Agcaoili cited the offensive operations of the military against the NPAs in Mindanao.
“Last Sunday, 18 June, the day of the GRP reciprocal announcement to refrain from conducting offensive operations against the NPA in Mindanao, the AFP publicly announced that their forces had killed four NPA fighters, including an alleged NPA Front Secretary, in three separate military operations conducted by the 67th Infantry Battalion, the 104th Division Reconnaissance Company and the 66th Infantry Battalion in the towns of Cateel and Banaybanay in Davao Oriental and the town of Pantukan in Compostela Valley,” he said.
Despite the continuing word war and the clashes between the government and the NPAs, Abella said there is no instruction from President Rodrigo Duterte to discontinue the government’s peace negotiations. (davaotoday.com)