PRESIDENT TERMINATES CEASEFIRE, PEACE TALKS WITH REDS
Philippine President Rodrigo terminated on February 4 the government’s unilateral ceasefire and peace negotiations with rebels in the midst of talks aiming to end the 50-year old communist insurgency.
Duterte’s termination of the ceasefire and the peace talk came as a major setback to the ongoing negotiations for peace with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF).
Duterte said the communist insurgency could be in for another 50 years of battle but he is not in the mood to resume the talks.
Unless there are “compelling reasons,” Duterte said the government would not resume negotiations with the rebels during his term. His term ends in 2022.
But it was the communists who pushed Duterte to his fatal decision to end the negotiations.
In a statement, NPA spokesman Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos accused Duterte of reneging on his promise to release about 200 political prisoners held in Philippine jails. Ka Oris also adds that the military is taking advantage of the ceasefire by encroaching into rebel territories while the peace negotiations are ongoing.
For this, Ka Oris said the NPA is terminating the unilateral ceasefire it declared last year.
INTERPOL TO ARREST REBEL CONSULTANTS
Panels of the government and the rebels have been meeting abroad to talk peace.
With the peace talks scuttled, Duterte will ask the International Police (INTERPOL) to arrest consultants of the NDF.
I will cancel their passport, said Duterte of the consultants, who are leftist political prisoners facing rebellion charges temporarily released and allowed to travel abroad to sit with in NDF panel in the peace talks held last year in Norway and in Italy, Rome this month.
The NDF is the political arm of the communist movement in the Philippines and is representing the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the armed New People’s Army (NPA) in the peace negotiations.
Duterte said if the consultants will not return home to be jailed, he would ask the Interpol to arrest the “criminals.” He said the consultants are still facing charges and are out only on safe conduct passes.
The NPA, the armed component of the NPA, has been declared as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by both the United States and the European Union.
The temporary freedom of 20 consultants was among conditions demanded by the NDF for the start of the peace negotiations.
The government has also informed the NDF that it has cancelled the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG), an agreement between the government and the insurgents in 1986 that prevents the arrest of rebels and their consultants during peace negotiations.
Duterte said he sees another 50 years of battle between government and the insurgents.
Panels of the Philippine government and the insurgents have met in peace negotiations last year in Oslo, Norway and in Rome, Italy this month.
Duterte said he has called on members of the government panel to “pack their bags” and return to the country.
The President said leftist leaders incarcerated in Philippine jails for rebellion and other crimes who were released on safe conduct passes to act as consultants in peace talks abroad would now be arrested and returned to jail.
While Duterte was bent on seeking peace, the triad running the Philippine communist insurgency triggered Duterte’s turnaround from his promise to reach a peace agreement with the communist rebels who are seen as a major roadblock to the country’s progress.
Days after the end on January 25 of the Third Round of the peace talks between panels of both sides in Italy, Rome, the NPA, the armed wing of the communist triad, announced the termination of of its own unilateral ceasefire declared in August last year.
Duterte said the communist rebels are making excessive demands and reacted by terminating the government’s own unilateral ceasefire and the peace negotiation.
I took the extra mile to make peace with the communists, said Duterte, who initiated resumption of peace negotiations with the communists on the first days of his assumption into the presidency last year. As a confidence building move, Duterte has appointed known leftists to key government positions.
You want another 50 years of war? said Duterte as he announced the premature end of the government’s unilateral ceasefire that was planned to be in effect until both sides reach a final agreement.
While he did not declare an all-out war, Duterte said he has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to resume fighting the “terrorists.” Guns of the AFP and the NPA had been silenced by the unilateral ceasefires. With Duterte beating the war drums, there would now be expected sporadic clashes between the troopers and communist rebels.
Days before the NPA announced the termination of its unilateral ceasefire and before it came into effect on January 10, communist rebels attacked military troopers in Surigao, Bukidnon and Davao Oriental.
Duterte accused the NPA of treachery.
They announced publicly that they were lifting the ceasefire order but they were killing my soldiers and policemen in the meantime. Where’s the honor in that? You don’t have respect for your enemy. In the field of battle, there is always honor, Duterte said during his visit in Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro City on February 5 at the wake of three soldiers killed by the NPA in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.
The NPAs are terrorists, said Duterte. The NPA has heavy presence in many parts of the country especially in Northern and Southern Mindanao, running their fronts with revolutionary taxes from companies. Duterte said the NPA burn equipment of companies who refuse to pay up.
They wreak havoc on the economy, said Duterte at the wake of the slain troopers.
The government and the communist rebels declared separate unilateral ceasefires in August as formal peace negotiations began in Norway. The ceasefires were to end on February 10.
Panels of both side are were supposed to meet anew soon for the Fourth Round of talks where a bilateral ceasefire was supposed to be discussed.
Duterte has taken the communist insurgency, and the Muslim insurgency in Nindanao, as major drawbacks to the country’s peace and order and economic development and has vowed to craft separate peace agreements with the CPP/NPA/NDF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (NDF) and other Mindanao Moro groups within his 6-year administration.
The peace pact with Moro groups in Mindanao is in the final stage with the creation of a Transition Commission that includes the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), that led the Moro rebellion for decades. The Transition Commission will oversee the establishment of a Bangsamoro juridical entity covering Muslim-dominated areas in Mindanao.