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Gov’t to create new panel for localized peace talks

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, March 21st, 2019

FILE PHOTO: The Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the government peace panel during the formal resumption of peace talks at Oslo, Norway on Tuesday, June 14, 2016. (Photo courtesy: Jesus Dureza’s Facebook account.)

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has terminated the appointments of the members of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) negotiating panel.

But the decision, according to Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. will pave the way for the creation of a holistic panel that will supervise localized peace negotiations.

The termination of services of the members of the panel was officially terminated last March 18, based on the letter from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea addressed to the GRP panel members.

The decades-long peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), which represents the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), has been intermittent since it began in 1986.

Galvez said the negotiations yielded nothing beneficial for the government.

With the termination of the peace panel, the implementation of the Hague Declaration and Comprehensive Agreement for the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws (CARHRIHL) is now temporarily on hold until the Office of the President has evaluated and reviewed all past agreements with the NDFP.

In response to the issue, NDFP Founding Chairman and Chief Political Consultant Joma Sison in a statement on Thursday (March 21) accused President Duterte of having no interest in the peace negotiations because “he has always schemed to use the armed conflict as an excuse for carrying out martial law nationwide” and “in order to realize and impose fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people.”

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a press briefing said Sison “read it wrongly.”

“That’s why there will be creation of panels, it’s localized. That would be more favorable to them,” Panelo concluded.

The new panel, Panelo said, will commission representatives from different sectoral groups, local government units, and the military. – Marje Pelayo

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Lacson pushes for localized peace talks; urges gov’t to exclude Sison from talks with Reds

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson (Courtesy: pinglacson.com)

Senator Panfilo Lacson believes it is high time for the government to focus its peace talk efforts with those who do not listen to Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison.

Lacson stressed that the strength of the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels differs depending on their localities and that a localized peace talks is a much better way to stop the problem with communist rebels.

The senator said, “such a move is long in coming. I have always believed that this is the better way to deal with the five-decade insurgency problem.”

Lacson made the statement following President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to create a new peace panel tasked to “oversee” localized peace talks.

Lacson added that he had dealt with the NPA when he was still with the Philippine National Police which he headed from 1999 to 2001 and had been battling for localized peace talks since then up until now as a member of the Senate.

“I have been batting for localized peace talks and in fact strongly suggested the same to former Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III in one committee hearing of the Senate Committee on Peace and Unification chaired and presided by Senator Gregorio Honasan II,” he added.

Lacson also suggested that local government officials negotiate with guerilla leaders in areas where the NPA is not that influential, while the military focuses on areas where the NPAs are a threat.

 “So it is better that governors and mayors and other LGU officials be the ones to talk to local communist guerrillas, under the guidance and direction of a government peace panel that will provide the parameters for such localized peace talks but with enough flexibility in handling such peace initiatives,” he said.

Lacson believes that it is useless to deal with Sison, as he does not have control over the NPA.

“Experience has shown that while Sison asks for a ceasefire and government accommodates his request, NPAs continue conducting ambushes and raids. This shows Sison no longer has control over the NPA’s armed regulars,” Lacson added.

The NPA, the armed wing of the CPP, had been declared by the Philippine government, as well as the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, as a terrorist organization. – Maris Federez

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AFP on Duterte’s move to scrap talks with Reds: ‘It’s the right thing’

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, March 22nd, 2019

File photo: Members of the New People’s Army

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Friday (March 22) that cancelling the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was the right move.

“Dapat lang. 31 years of deceptive ploys using peace talks, across five administrations, only resulted to more terrorist NPAs being released, an opportunity for the CTG (communist terrorist groups) to recruit and recover lost areas of influence, publicity for Joma [Sison] in the international arena as a ‘dove,’” AFP deputy chief of staff for civil-military operations Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr. said in a message sent to media on Friday.

Parlade added that the decades-long peace process “wasted government funds spent for negotiations and junkets, opportunity losses for investments and development because of prolonged and intermittent fighting.”

“They had their best chance when peace was offered again to them by PRRD [President Rodrigo R. Duterte], offering Cabinet posts in good faith for them to help in good governance but they blew it by attacking projects, killing society forces, and even innocent civilians,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday permanently ended the peace negotiations and told the communist rebels to just talk to the next administration.

Malacañang followed this up with an announcement that a new panel will be created to pursue localized peace talks with communist members on the ground in line with the government’s new whole-of-nation approach to end the 50-year armed struggle.

READ: Gov’t to create new panel for localized peace talks

But for CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, there is nothing new in Duterte’s latest move to scrap the peace talks with the Reds, likening him to “an old broken record.”

“As far as the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) is concerned, Duterte formally killed the peace negotiations on Nov. 23, 2017 with his Proclamation 360 terminating them,” Sison said in a statement released Thursday evening (March 21).

The communist leader added that Duterte was just “merely driving more nails into the coffin of the peace negotiations under his regime.”

He also claimed that the President only wants to implement fake localized peace process controlled by the military, instead of negotiating with the CPP national leaders.

“Instead of peace negotiations at the national level by the duly-authorized panels of the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and the NDFP, what Duterte wants is fake localized peace negotiations staged and controlled by the military and military-occupied Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Negotiations,” he said.

But according to AFP, Sison was just trying to muddle the issue to conceal his panic over Duterte’s decision.

AFP Spokesperson Marine BGen Edgard Arevalo said in a statement that Sison is well aware that local peace engagement has been immensely successful.

“Mr. Sison has the temerity to call President Duterte ‘stupid’ for thinking that government will be successful in attaining peace by engaging NPA (New People’s Army) Commanders and fighters on the ground instead of the CPP-NPA’s national leadership,” Arevalo said.

“Mr. Sison consistently calls localized peace talks as a “waste of people’s money”, “cheap trick”, “absurd and stupid”, and by other deriding terms. He moves heaven and earth to prevent it because it will further relegate him to history’s dustbin,” he added.

The AFP official said that since January 2018, more than 11,000 NPA fighters and sympathizers have returned to the government’s fold after realizing that they have been deceived.

“But enough is enough. 50 years of duplicity, deceit, and murder of thousands of his comrades on mere suspicion of being military informants or have expressed desire to go back to mainstream society must stop,” Arevalo said.

He also called on anew to communist rebels to come out of hiding and take advantage of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Programs being offered by the current government.

“They should follow the lead of their comrades who stopped being menace to society and are now experiencing a life free from hunger, fear, and uncalled for perils fighting government. They should take advantage of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Programs,” Arevalo said. –— Robie de Guzman

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Joma Sison shrugs off DOJ, court’s summons over CPP-NPA case

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: CPP Founder and NDFP Chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison

MANILA, Philippines — Communist leader Joma Sison is not taking heed of the summons of a Manila court and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Sison was asked to appear in court as part of the government’s move to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) as a terrorist group.

In a statement, Sison insisted that he is protected by the by “the Refugee Convention and by Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights” being a recognized political refugee in the Netherlands.

Therefore, he said, he cannot be deported to the Philippines.

He called the government’s attempt at summoning him as “malicious and futile.”

“It is a blatantly cheap political maneuver of the tyrannical Duterte regime which has become notorious for committing gross and systematic human rights violations for the purpose of terrorizing the people,” the communist leader said.

The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19 also identified Mindanao Commission Secretary Antonio Cabanatan as having links to the CPP-NPA.

“The Court hereby resolves to admit petitioner’s ‘amended petition’ and direct petitioner to serve summons to respondent organizations, through Jose Maria Sison and Antonio Cabanatan,” the order read.

“But since Sison is out of the country and there is no clear information on Cabanatan’s address, the summons would be served through general publication.

“The addresses of Jose Maria Sison and Antonio Cabanatan being unknown, service of summons shall be made by publication,” it added. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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