Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison on Thursday warned that more people would take up arms against the government if President Rodrigo Duterte makes good his threat to go after organizations that he claims are “legal fronts” for the revolutionary movement.
“He wants everyone to revolt,” Sison said in Filipino, in an interview with TV5.
“Gusto niyang mag-rebolusyon lahat ng tao
[He wants everyone to revolt],” Sison, whose seeking exile in Utretch, told TV5.
“Go ahead, let him kill, jail, and kidnap those in the legal democratic force, let us see what happens,” Sison said.
He also scored Duterte for labeling the communist terrorists, saying that government forces have killed more civilians.
In a separate television interview, National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief peace negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said they remain hopeful that Duterte’s move to abandon peace talks was just a means of “expressing his anger” over a communist attack in which an infant was killed.
“We are hopeful that all these rants of the President in the last few days are just that—that he is expressing his anger and would return to trying to talk with us to achieve basic social and economic reforms in the country,” Agcaoili told ANC.
“There is a clamor by the people for a just peace in the struggle for social and national liberation of the Filipino people so if the President would like to abandon that and stop engaging in peace negotiations, that’s his responsibility, his own lookout,” he added.
The government, he said, should not backtrack on the promises and agreements they made, including Duterte’s vow to release all political prisoners.
In the Palace, presidential spokesman Harry Roque sought to justify the President’s order to arrest all persons showing sympathy to the communist rebels, saying there was a legal basis for such actions.
“Conspiracy is sufficient basis to accuse them of rebellion and acts of terrorism because, in a conspiracy, the act of one is the act of all,” Roque told reporters in a regular Palace press briefing.
“Meaning, even if they did not physically take up arms, if they are part of a conspiracy to commit acts of terror or rebellion, then they can be held liable under the theory of a conspiracy,” he added.
Roque would not say, however, what actions by leftist organizations tied in to the atrocities committed by the New People’s Army.
Roque said the President has yet to announce which “legal fronts” he was referring to, but added that this would be guided by security and intelligence agencies.
On Wednesday, Duterte said the communist rebels will be treated as outlaws, since they are helping to topple the government or promote violence. He invited the “legal fronts” such as the NDF to declare their “revolution” against him.
Earlier this week, Duterte announced that there will be no Christmas truce with the communist rebels, as the government formally announced the cancellation of peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front.
The President’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, said the cancellation of peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front would not affect localize peace talks initiated by the city government.
She said the localized peace talks will only be cancelled if the President issues an official paper tagging the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorists.
“There is no paper yet, everything is just verbal, so legally we can still continue to negotiate and talk if the NPA still wants to talk through our DC-PEACE [initiative],” she said.
Senator Francis Escudero said he is in favor of peace talks because innocent civilians will inevitably get caught in the crossfire in a shooting war.
“I hope this is just a snag in the peace talks and will serve to enlighten both sides, especially the CPP-NPA-NDF, that they should stop their attacks and be more flexible in their negotiation positions in order to pave the way for peace,” Escudero said.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the cancellation of peace talks with CPP-NPA-NDF was the President’s call to make.
If he had his way, Recto said, he would be a little more patient with the communist rebels.
“But I respect the call of the President. I am not the President,” Recto said.
He also hit the left for not honoring their ceasefire.
A militant farmers group said Duterte’s threat to arrest the so-called legal fronts of the CPP was part of a narrative to justify the extension of martial law and the declaration of open facist rule.
“Duterte is acting and speaking like a mad man on steroids. His recent rendezvous with US President Donald Trump, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping got him all hyped with power. He is wielding it and lashing it at anyone, especially at his critics and the political opposition,” said Danilo Ramos, chairpman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. – With F. Pearl A. Gajunera, Macon Ramos-Araneta and Bill Casas