Politics


Philippines: Rebel communists mock Arroyo's peace talks plan




Manila, 27 August (AKI) - The outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) sneered at plans by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to start local peace talks with CPP leaders and commanders of the New People’s Army (NPA), the rebel party’s armed wing.

“No one in the entire revolutionary movement will entertain ploys about local peace talks,” CPP spokesperson Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal said on Monday.

“The CPP-NPA, the NDFP and the entire revolutionary movement are open to resuming formal peace talks but only through the officially designated negotiating panel of the NDFP,” said Rosal.

NDFP stands for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and is a political umbrella under which the CPP operates.

Over the weekend, National Security adviser Norberto Gonzales told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the government “will kick-start the stalled talks with the CPP/NPA through their local commanders across the country.”

This move is aimed at bypassing CPP founding chairman, Jose Maria Sison, who recently refused an offer to restart negotiations based on a ceasefire.

Soliman Santos, a lawyer and the Asian representative for South-South Network (SSN) for Non-State Armed Group Engagement, said that Manila's offer was bound to be refused by the rebels. 

“The current government does not have a better plan than making ceasefire a precondition for talks. There is some merit in a ceasefire call but, for now, the CPP-NPA-NDFP is adamant against a ceasefire for reasons of its own, some valid,” he told Adnkronos International (AKI).

“So, it is like an offer that can only be refused. Thus, the fighting goes on,” he added.

Sison has said the CPP would resume talks if the government accepts the NDFP's Concise Agreement for an Immediate Just Peace. This is a 10-point proposal submitted by the NDFP "to accelerate the forging of a peace agreement and truce."

Moreover, Sison has often stated that the NDFP would consider resuming the peace talks if the government would address so-called "prejudicial questions" such as extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and the displacement of civilians by military operations.

Negotiations with the communists have been suspended since 2004 when the rebels were included on the US and European governments' list of foreign terrorist organisations. The removal from the lists is another of Sison’s preconditions.

The CPP and the NPA have been trying to turn the Philippines into a Maoist state since 1969. Nearly 40 years later, the government says the NPA counts on 7,300 fighters, while the rebels claim to have over 12,000 armed militiamen

Analysts have argued that poverty, income disparity and a flawed democratic system - rather than Maoist ideas - fuel the revolt, which has left over 40,000 people dead to date.


 

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