Provincial and regional commands of the New People’s Army have thumbed down the government’s plans for localized peace talks, the Communist Party of the Philippines said Wednesday in a statement.
CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison previously said localized peace talks would not work, branding them as “stage plays.”
This was after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered last month the government panel’s withdrawal from formal peace talks with the communists’ political wing, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, a day before they were scheduled to resume in The Netherlands.
The CPP said NPA field commands and “other local revolutionary formations’’ have issued separate statements condemning Duterte’s offer of peace talks to be initiated by local government units.
The government declarations, the party said, “have proven that the rejection of localized peace negotiations does not only come from NDFP peace negotiators in Netherlands.”
“These statements are virtual slaps on the face of Duterte and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana,” the CPP said.
“Local revolutionary forces echo the earlier statement issued by the Communist Party of the Philippines denouncing Duterte’s local peace talks, which smokescreen its total war against the people and widespread military abuses under Mindanao martial law and Oplan Kapayapaan,” its statement added.
They also point out how such “pretend talks” will fail in their respective areas, the communists added.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque previously said local governments may pursue negotiations with the NPA rebels, provided “they do not concede any aspect of governance and pursuant to guidelines to be agreed upon by the Cabinet cluster on security.”
Malacañang also said Duterte would issue an executive order providing the guidelines for the localized peace talks with the communists.
The NPA’s Venerando Villacillo Command in the Northern Luzon provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino claimed localized peace talks would not address the root of the armed conflict.
It said only the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army—which is based in the region—along with other armed state forces, intelligence units, “local elite and foreign imperialist capitalists” would benefit from localized peace talks.
The Cordillera People’s Democratic Front also said it would not join any local talks with the government, saying it continued to support the NDFP negotiating panel.
The NPA’s Celso Minguez Command in Sorsogon called the Duterte proposal a “deceptive offer.”
Samuel Guerrero, the group’s spokesperson, said Sorsogon natives “will not be deceived by the renewed schemes of Duterte and his armed forces.”
He noted the administration “is pushing for this kind of talk to hide the fact that it does not have any plan to finalize and sign the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms” or Caser
In Negros Island, local NDFP spokesman Frank Fernandez said the President “was just playing blind to the everyday struggles of Filipinos.”
The localized peace talks, Fernandez said were designed to “smokescreen the brutal and ruthless all-out war that has beset the country and divert attention from Duterte’s unwillingness to pursue agrarian reform, national industrialization and national sovereignty.”
In neighboring Panay Island, local NDFP spokesperson Concha Araneta said communists there would never be fooled by Duterte’s proposal.
“NDF-Panay and all revolutionary forces in the region totally reject any call for local peace talks with the local bureaucracy or any other entity blessed by the anti-peace liar and chief fascist representative of the ruling class in the country,” Araneta said.
In Duterte’s home region, spokesperson Rubi del Mundo said local peace talks are “just a hollow attempt to draw a veil over the ravages of martial law in Mindanao and the escalating bloodbath of Oplan Kapayapaan affecting millions of civilians in the country.”