DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Reciprocal Working Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP RWC-SER) castigated Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana Jr. for his previous statement that the government should consider ending the peace process if communist guerrillas continue their offensives against the government.
“I, for one, have already been talking with the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) panel if it’s possible to stop talking for a while with the CPP as long as they can’t control the NPAs who conduct extortion activities, burning of private properties, and kidnappings,” Lorenzana said Monday.
In a statement on Wednesday, July 5, Alan Jazmines, vice chairperson of the NDFP RWC-SER said Lorenzana’s statement shows he is “a cold-blooded warmonger who has no interest at all in advancing the interests of the Filipino people.”
“His continuous harping that there should be a bilateral ceasefire before any peace talks can resume is putting the cart before the horse,” Jazmines said.
Jazmines said Lorenzana shows that “he has no grasp at all of the roots of the armed conflinct.”
“He rejects the fact that socio-economic reforms lie at the heart of the peace talks. He does not seem to care that any substantial gain that can be reached by the NDFP and the GRP would benefit the greater majority of the Filipino people,” he added.
Both Parties of the government and communists believe significant milestones have been achieved since the talks resumed under President Rodrigo Duterte. In barely a year, the Parties have done four rounds of formal talks.
However, the fifth round of talks was cancelled on May 28 after the GRP refused to participate citing the lack of enabling environment for the talks to proceed.
In a reply to the GRP’s non participation to the formal talks, the NDFP said: “The GRP’s persistent demand for the immediate signing of a bilateral ceasefire agreement as precondition to the continuation of the formal talks is an outright violation of the 1992 Hague Joint Declaration.”
“The NDFP stands by its position, priorly acknowledged and concurred with by the GRP, that the implementation of CARHRIHL and the forging of the CASER should take precedence over the crafting of a bilateral ceasefire agreement,” it said in a statement dated May 27.
The fifth round of talks is supposed to tackle the social and economic reforms, particularly on agrarian reform and rural development (ARRD) and the next two important sections of the CASER draft — national industrialization and economic development (NIED) and environmental protection, rehabilitation and compensation.
The NDFP believes Lorenzana is “proving himself to be a major obstacle to peace.”
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte also called on the NDFP to “stop waging war” against the government.
“I have to talk to the communists, but this time I hope you do it in a modality that is sincere,” the President said during his visit to the 64th founding anniversary of Hagonoy in Davao del Sur on Wednesday.
Duterte lamented that the communists had “vacillating” statement.
“First you said that during the martial law proclamation, suko… I ordered your troops, the NPAs to engage us government forces actively, when you changed your mind and said you are going to cooperate, but at the same time I cannot understand you guys kay parang kayong electric fan, right to left, left to right. Unsa ba gyud? Gusto mo makig istorya? [inaudible] nato ning pagkalma sa Marawi, mag-istorya ta o magsige ta’g away?,” Duterte said.
(First you said that during the martial law proclamation, you got angry because I ordered your troops, the NPAs to engage us government forces actively, when you changed your mind and said you are going to cooperate, but at the same time I cannot understand you guys because you’re like an electric fan, right to left, left to right. What do you really want? Do you want to talk? [inaudible] let the crisis in Marawi cool down and we’ll talk or we’ll continue to fight?)
However, the CPP said the NDFP’s earlier declaration to order the NPA to refrain from carrying out offensives in Mindanao rests on the critical precondition that “the AFP will likewise refrain as well from attacking the NPA and the people in the revolutionary base areas in Mindanao.”
“Presently, such conditions do not exist concretely,” it said in a statement on June 25.
Talks to resume
GRP peace panel Silvestre Bello III announced on Tuesday that the fifth round of the formal talks between the government and the NDFP is scheduled in August. He said prior to the formal talks, the peace panels will hold informal meetings this month somewhere in Asia to talk about social and economic reforms and unilateral interim ceasefire. This he said, will be submitted for approval of both panels once the formal talks resume next month.
Bello added that so long as the government’s peace panel engage the communists in the peace negotiations, it means the military still believes that it is right to talk to the NDFP.
Bello said they regularly consult the intelligence community of the AFP and the National Security Adviser, Secretary Hermogenes Esperon whenever there is a scheduled talks with the NDFP.
“The mere fact that we go to the venue of the talks is an indication that their assessment is that they are still the right person to talk to. Otherwise, kapag sinabi ninyo sa amin na, “Huwag ninyo ng kausapin iyong mga iyan, hindi naman nila kontrolado ang puwersa nila.” We will not go there anymore,” Bello said.
Bello also told reporters that the statement of Lorenzana was probably taken “out of context.”
He also said the NPAs “are not into extortion” but are collecting revolutionary tax.(davaotoday.com)