DAVAO CITY, Philippines — New People’s Army spokesperson Ka Oris said there are no factions inside the Communist Party of the Philippines.
During the third round of talks in Rome, Italy last month, a news report cited sources alleging that there are three factions in the revolutionary movement: one is led by NDFP Senior Adviser Luis Jalandoni and Chief Political Consultant Jose Ma. Sison who allegedly wants a negotiated settlement; another faction led by Benito and Wilma Tiamzon who wants the release of all political prisoners; and a third faction led by NPA National Operational Command spokesperson Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos who wants to pursue the armed struggle.
In a statement, Ka Oris said they are united in the aspiration for a just and lasting peace in the country. He also said that the NPA is supportive of its NDFP representatives and consultants.
“We commend the dedication and hard work they put into the talks in the movement’s efforts to bring just peace even just a little step closer to the Filipino people,” he said.
Ka Oris said the termination of the unilateral ceasefire of the CPP and the NPA was a decision consulted with the NDFP negotiating panel which is chaired by Fidel Agcaoili.
“While the whole revolutionary movement relies on armed struggle as the principal form of struggle that will ensure the people’s liberation from imperialist and feudal oppression, we are always open to explore whatever avenues the situation may open to achieve comprehensive reform,” he said.
On February 1, the CPP and NPA terminated the unilateral ceasefire, saying the government denied freedom to political detainees and because of the offensive operations of the military causing the ceasefire to become untenable. The termination of their unilateral ceasefire is set to take effect Friday, Feb. 10.
For his part, President Duterte reciprocated the action of the CPP and NPA by terminating also the government’s ceasefire.
Duterte cited the killing of three soldiers in Bukidnon province last February 1. He expressed dismay that even while there was a ceasefire, the government troops were still attacked. He also cited that the killing of one soldier was an overkill based on reports that he sustained more than 70 gunshot wounds.
The NPA condoled with the family in a statement, however, they said the killing of the three soldiers was a legitimate encounter and denied reports of the desecration of a soldier’s body.
Ready for war
With the termination of ceasefire, Duterte ordered the troops to “prepare for a long fight” against the rebels whom he now considers as “terrorists.”
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also announced on Tuesday that the military will launch an “all out war” against the NPA.
Lorenzana also assured that the military will not commit abuses against civilians. He said the all out war will only target the NPA’s armed components.
However, the CPP warned of the massive human rights violations coming with the order.
“Judging by his record in his Oplan Tokhang, Duterte’s all-out war is bound to set his fascist dogs in the AFP in a wild spree of human rights abuses against the people and gross violations of civil liberties,” he said.
Calls for resumption of peace talks
Cause-oriented groups are drumming up the call for both parties to resume the peace negotiations worried that the all out war will result to civilian casualties.
Since February 1, at least five civilians were already killed, while activists reported incidents of illegal arrests against members of progressive organizations tagged as rebel supporters.
In a statement, the National Union of People’s Lawyers said the ceasefire should not be decisive in continuing the talks.
“While it may provide a conducive environment to the talks it may also be used by militarist elements in the government to sabotage the peace process. Continuing the talks is never more important now that the ceasefire has been lifted by both sides,” said former Rep. Neri Colmenares, NUPL chairman.
The Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc., also urged both parties to go back to the negotiating table.
The group said the peace talks will benefit communities affected by the armed conflict.
In Congress, 103 lawmakers also signed a resolution urging the president to resume the peace negotiations.(davaotoday.com)