COMMUNITY SINGING. Somewhere in Agusan del Sur, NPA fighters sing the Internationale with the lumads Wednesday during the 44th anniversary of the re-establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines. ( photo by Jayboy A. Urbina)

Members of the New People’s Army singing the Internationale somewhere in Agusan del Sur during the 44th anniversary of the re-establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines. ( file photo)

DAVAO CITY — Peace advocates in the country are telling the United States to “step aside” and give the Philippines a chance to peace.

Rev. Rex R.B. Reyes, Jr., convener of Pilgrims for Peace said the terrorist tag by the US on the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army “can impede the efforts to resume peace negotiations in the country”.

The Pilgrims for Peace, in a statement, said it believes that the US should “let the Philippines tread (its) own course in the pursuit of the peace we want.”

In its 2015 Country Reports on Terrorism, East Asia and the Pacific Overview mentioned the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA as among the US-designated-FTOs along with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Jemaah Islamiya (JI), and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

The US government said “FTO designations play a critical role in our fight against terrorism and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business.”

The NPA is the armed wing of the CPP and both are in designated in the list on August 9, 2002.

Resumption of peace talks under new President

Reyes said peace advocates have seen “encouraging” prospects for peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front, the CPP’s political wing, with the interest of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte to  pursue peace talks with the Communists.

“In fact, Duterte’s negotiating panel chair, Secretary Silvestre Bello III, peace adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza and panel member Hernani Braganza are being sent to Oslo, Norway to engage in preliminary talks on June 16, 2016, even before our new president’s inauguration to office,” said Reyes.

He said the terror tag can “impede travel and make it dangerous for Professor Jose Maria Sison, founding chair of the CPP, to attend any activity related to the talks in the Philippines, as requested by our incoming president.”

Even before the elections on May 9, Duterte talked with his former teacher, Prof. Sison, via Skype about the prospects of resuming the peace negotiations. Duterte even offered four Cabinet posts to the CPP.

As of press time, Duterte has appointed three nominees from the list submitted by the National Democratic Front including Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Rafael Mariano, who will head the Department of Agrarian Reform; Prof. Judy Taguiwalo who will head the Department of Social Welfare and Development and another former Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Joel Maglunsod, who is also a labor leader under the progressive labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno to be the labor undersecretary.

US interests

Reyes said the terror US terror listings are “based on the US interests” in the Philippines.

“United States intelligence groups regularly label and tag those who do not capitulate to their agenda and primacy in the world; after the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City, the US launched an intensified campaign of foreign domination under the guise of a “War on Terror”,” said Reyes.

Reyes said even after more than a century the Philippines continue to struggle to break free fom beng “colonial and neo-colonial subjects of US imperialism”.

He said the incoming President is sending a message that “the Philippine will be going our own way in prioritizing peace talks with the NDFP.”

“This so-called “terrorist” listing is nothing new and we must not let it influence our openness to the pursuit of a just and enduring peace in the Philippines,” said Reyes.

Real terrorists

Meanwhile, the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said that Duterte’s offer of Cabinet posts to the CPP “belies the terrorist claims of the US.”

“What should be underscored is that the US government has proven itself as the number one terrorist state that has launched wars of aggression throughout the globe, killing millions of civilians,” said Renato Reyes, Jr. secretary general of Bayan.

“The US carries out drone strikes in violation of international law just about anywhere it wishes. US government, not the revolutionary groups and liberation movements, is the real terrorist,” said Reyes.

He said the terror-tag should be rejected and that interventions in the peace talks should be opposed by the Filipino people who have been struggling for a just and lasting peace.(

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