DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A former party-list representative and peace advocate has urged President Rodrigo Duterte to proceed with the resumption of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) after the 15-day reciprocal unilateral ceasefire agreement between the government troops and communist rebels ended on Tuesday night(Jan.7).
In a statement, former Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao said “there’s more to gain in the peace negotiations compared to the military approach to end the decades-long armed insurgency in the country as pushed by warmongers inside the Duterte government.”
“We urge the Duterte government to pursue the path for just and lasting peace by allowing negotiations to continue with the NDFP. It would be a good New Year’s start,” Casilao said.
The former lawmaker also slammed Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. for opposing the resumption of the peace talks between the Duterte government and NDFP.
Lorenzana and Esperon earlier expressed opposition to the holiday ceasefire and the possible resumption of the formal negotiations. Security officials instead have been pushing for “localized peace talks” institutionalized by Duterte’s Executive Order 70.
The two have been saying that the localized peace talks have already “made some gains” towards ending the communist armed conflict.
In Mindanao, Galvez said in a press statement last Dec. 28, that the conduct of local peace talks has “resulted in the mass surrender” of members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) Southern, Northeastern, and Western Mindanao Regional Party Committees operating in Regions IX, X, XI and CARAGA.
Communist rebels, however, accused the AFP of profiteering from fake or forced NPA surrenders.
“The US-Duterte regime and the AFP failed to turn the minds of revolutionaries through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), offering of “reward money” and other trickeries to effect the surrender of Red fighters. The said government program has been exposed as milking cow of the AFP’s corruption and basis for their promotion,” the CPP NorthEastern Mindanao Region said in a statement, in line with CPP’s 51st anniversary last Dec. 26,2019.
Casilao said that socioeconomic reforms under the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Agreement (CASER) would be “better for the majority of the people who clamor for genuine social change.”
CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, meanwhile, was quoted saying in a Kodao.com report on Jan. 8 that there’s no reason for the NDFP to recommend an extension of the ceasefire “especially because GRP did not release a single political prisoner who is sickly, elderly or NDFP consultant in the entire period of the ceasefire agreement.” (davaotoday.com)