President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he remains optimistic that his administration would be able to achieve a lasting peace with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) at a “much earlier” time.
Duterte made the statement, as he noticed that many members of the CPP’s armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), are surrendering and seeking reintegration into the society.
“With the rate that the NPAs are surrendering, mukhang I think we’d be able to realize peace much earlier,” the President said during the mass oath-taking of new presidential appointees held at Palace’s Rizal Hall.
To recall, Duterte on Jan. 23 led the distribution of government assistance packages to at least 263 former communist insurgents in San Isidro, Leyte.
Duterte, in his previous speech, hinted that he might give in to the demands of the communist movement in a bid to realize long-lasting peace in the country.
The President, however, did not elaborate on the communists’ specific favors for the possible revival of peace negotiations between the national government and the CPP’s political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF).
“The most important thing is to come up and comply with the promise to the rebels,” he said.
“Kaya sabi ko doon sa mga sundalo, bitawan na lang niyo. Umalis na lang kayo diyan. Ibigay na lang ninyo sa mga NPA. Lagyan na lang natin ng… Ah ayaw kong sabihin kasi may gusto akong ilagay (That’s why I told the soldiers, just let go. Leave the place and just give it to the NPA. We’ll just place a… I don’t want to mention it but I want to place something there),” Duterte added.
On Nov. 23, 2017, Duterte signed Proclamation 360 to formally scrap the peace negotiations with the NDF due to the series of attacks waged by the NPA rebels against the government forces and civilians.
The termination of peace talks was followed by the Dec. 5, 2017 signing of Proclamation 374, branding the CPP-NPA as terror group because of the crimes they allegedly committed “against the Filipino people, against humanity, and the law of the nations.”
Apart from the Philippines, the CPP-NPA has also been tagged as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
The peace talks between the national government and the NDF have been intermittent since 1986.
But in an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN on Jan. 10, Duterte said his government is ready for the possible resumption of talks with the communist party.
Duterte, during the television interview, announced that he had already formed a new government peace panel that would hold negotiations with NDF consultants for the crafting of a binding peace pact between the two parties.
The new state peace negotiators would replace the members of the national government’s now-defunct negotiating peace panel led by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello. (PNA)
Lauding the significant gains of the National Task Force to End Local Communist (lNTF ELCAC), the newly-installed Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is confident that the multi-pronged approach of Executive Order 70 will put an end to the treacherous life cycle of the more than five decades of insurgency.
Speaking during the AFP Change of Command ceremony on Jan. 4, Lt. General Felimon Santos, said unlike in the past when local chief executives left the insurgency problem solely to the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to deal with, EO involves all government agencies from the national to the barangay level with delineated roles and responsibilities in the whole-of-nation approach.
“Government agencies and their corresponding units at all levels cooperate, interact, support, provide practical solutions and solve problems and issues on the ground that are being exploited by these communist terrorists in order to stir-up our countrymen to fight against our government through armed struggle,” Santos said.
He added that EO 70, which was signed by President R. Duterte in December 2018, created NTF ELCAC that institutionalized a whole-of-nation approach in obtaining exclusive and sustainable peace-giving us an effective solution against communist-terrorists.
“This multi-pronged approach addresses the motivation for insurgency and will hopefully put an end to its treacherous life cycle,” he said, adding that by doing so, there will be no reason for the Communist Party of the Philippines, its armed wing the New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front to agitate, organize and mobilize the vulnerable sectors and communities.
Santos, who headed the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command based in Davao City, said he witnessed what EO provides for as it is being actually done in the provinces of Davao Oriental by Governor Nelson Dayanghirang, Davao de Oro by Governor Tyron Uy, Davao del Norte by Governor Edwin Jubahib, and Davao City by Mayor Sara Duterte.
“Good governance practices and the efficient delivery of basic services for their constituents create resilient communities that thwart the return of the communist terrorist groups in their respective provinces and city,” he added.
The AFP, he said, can now focus its resources, manpower, and firepower on the remaining communists who persist with armed struggle despite the government’s goodwill through cash assistance, livelihood training, and housing.
Santos, who is the 53rd AFP Chief of Staff taking the top military post from retired General Noel Clement, vowed to immediately neutralize groups that insist on seizing political power through armed struggle and other local terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf.
“We shall effectively counter their narratives through good governance, build community trust and earn the people’s respect, he said.
He added that vigilance, support, and cooperation in the local populace are needed in order to suppress and prevent any future terroristic plans from occurring and avoiding the unnecessary loss of human lives and damage to property.
“The AFP should always be battle-ready to counteract any threat that confronts our desire for peace,” he said, adding that the AFP remains committed to supporting and working towards a successful implementation of the agreements for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the peace accord with the Moro National Liberation Front. (PNA)
No funding from the European Union (EU) has been spent on any communist activities, EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen said Tuesday as he stressed the existing terrorist tag on the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its military arm, the New People’s Army (NPA).
Last April, the delegation commissioned a firm for a financial audit on some EU contracts being questioned by the government for links to the CPP-NPA and its alleged front organizations.
Updating the media, Jessen said the firm was not able to identify any irregular or “awkward” expenditure on the part of the groups they finance.
“We asked them to review the expenditure and see if they could find anything that looked awkward and they couldn’t,” he said in a press briefing in Makati.
“So I think in terms of spending we are fine. In terms of objective, the government and us, we share completely the same objective — we don’t want to support an organization where we would be violating our own legal framework,” he added.
The envoy pointed out that the EU has several requirements before funding a non-government organization and, at the same time, conducts regular financing check.
“If we were, in any way or form, seen as supporting the CPP, we will be violating the EU legislation on terrorists. Therefore, it should be very clear to everybody that we would never do that because we would be going against our institution, our legal framework,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jessen said the bloc continues to engage with the Philippine government for further clarification, also citing their past dialogues as “constructive”.
“They’re providing new information to us which is always helpful and whenever we do get new information, we look into it and we verify,” he said.
Aside from the EU, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines listed the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization.
In March, the Philippine government urged the European Union to stop funding local organizations in the country allegedly linked to the CPP-NPA. Included in this group was the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines.
Documents obtained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines earlier revealed that EU has reportedly released its first tranche of more than 621,000 Euros (PHP36,663,840) to the said group and is expected to release 1.3 million Euros (PHP76,752,000) this year until the Philippine government flagged them.
President Rodrigo Duterte has called on Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison to return home and resume the peace negotiations within 60 days.
“I created a small window — 60 days. My proposal to Sison, I will not go there. We’re fighting for the Philippines, so you come here,” Duterte told Sison in his speech during the 24th National Federation of Motorcycle Clubs of the Philippines (NFMCP) Annual Convention in Legazpi City on Saturday night.
Sison went into exile in the Netherlands after the two-decade regime of former president Ferdinand Marcos ended in 1986.
Recently, Sison expressed openness and readiness to resume peace negotiations, which Duterte cancelled in November last year due to the series of attacks launched by the New People’s Army on civilians and government troops.
In response, Duterte said he is ready to give the communist rebels another chance to resume peace talks.
The President said the National Democratic Front-CPP-NPA could set up a camp where he could talk to them “minus arms.”
“I will pay for your (Sison) fare, billeting and food. And your guerrilla front, you stay in one place, set up a camp. Bring your arms inside the camp, you tell us where you are, you can go out of the camp, minus the arms,” Duterte said.
Duterte said he will give Sison the complete freedom to move, adding that he will order the military and the police to “be nice to you.”
“Take advantage of that 60 days. If it succeeds, then I would like to thank God first and the Filipino people and the military and the police for their understanding,” he said.
The Commander-in-Chief said he cannot fight with communist rebels forever, “same with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front.
“But the threat of terrorism remains very high. We are not fighting against our Moro brothers and sisters,” Duterte, who traced his Maranao roots from his grandmother, said.
“You know, if you (NPA) can do it, whatever it is, I can do it better, 100 times better than what you can do. So let us respect each other. Anyway, civilians are not part (of the fight). But once you start to mess up with…. I will not back out,” he added.
Duterte said his administration is “well on its way” towards eliminating the social ills that prevent the country’s march toward progress.
“I seek your proactive participation in nation-building by upholding peace and order, preserving national security and eliminating misfits in our society,” he said in his speech.
“Remember that your greater participation in our fight against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption is crucial to our goal of uplifting the lives of the Filipino people,” he added. (PNA)