By Germelina A. Lacorte
Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Prospect for peace talks between the government and Communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF) dims with the arrest of Communist party founder Jose Maria Sison by Dutch authorities last week.

Fidel Agcaoili, chairman of the NDF monitoring committee, said Sison’s arrest, the ransacking of the NDF international information office and the houses of Filipino refugees signaled the end of the peace negotiations, which began in 1986.

Agcaoili condemned the raid, which he said was based on “trumped-up” charges by the Philippine government.

“The actions of the Dutch authorities gravely violate the rights of Prof. Sison and do not, in any way, contribute to the peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front,” he said in a statement. “Contrary to the claims of Mrs. Arroyo, the arrest of Prof. Sison and the raids conducted are bound to terminate the ongoing peace negotiations.”

Free Joma. Supporters of Jose Maria Sison hold a rally in Utrecht demanding for his release. (Photo courtesy of

Peace talks between the government and the almost 40-year-old rebel group were put on hold since 2004 after the group demanded that it be removed from the terror list of the United States and European Union.

Agcaoili said the NDF negotiating panel will await instructions from the leadership of the Communist movement on the fate of the peace talks after the arrest of Sison.

But even with the possible death of the peace talks on the top level of the Communist movement, the military said they are looking forward to conducting the negotiations at the local level.

Major Medel Aguilar, chief of the 5th Civil Relations Group here, said peace talks will only be possible at the local level after the Communist leadership rejected the government proposal for its resumption.

Aguilar said the government has abandoned the idea of peace talks with the Communist party on the top level. “Sometimes, it’s useless talking to top leaders of the CPP. They only use the peace talk to disrupt our security operations and buy time to consolidate and reorganize their forces,” he said.

Communist leaders, however, scoffed at the idea of local level peace talks, saying that the “regime will end up talking to itself.”

“No one in the entire revolutionary movement will entertain ploys about local peace talks,” said Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, spokesman of the Communist party, said in a statement.

Rosal also said that the group is open to resuming formal peace talks with the government but only through the officially designated negotiating panel of the NDF. But Agcaoili said Sison’s arrest on Wednesday changed all these. (Germelina Lacorte/Davao Today)

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