MANILA – In the wake of President Duterte’s pronouncement over the weekend asking rebels, including the communist movement, to join the fight against terrorist groups, Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) leader Benito Tiamzon said they are, in principle, open to extending cooperation but at the same time expressed concerns regarding the parameters on the ground that it would entail.
President Duterte called on Muslim separatist groups and the communist rebels to join his administration’s fight against militants apparently linked to the Jihadist Islamic State movement.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or Islamic State, is also known by its Arabic language acronym Daesh.
“I will hire you as soldiers – same pay, same privileges, and I will build houses for you in some areas,” Duterte had said. He also asked the NPA to abandon its guerrilla war and cooperate instead with the government.
“If this drags on, and you want to join, take your chance with the Republic,” Duterte said.
The NPA’s Tiamzon said, “in principle, hindi kami tutol. at bukas kami d’yan. Wala pa kaming natatanggap na kung ano ‘yong mga partikular na mga balangkas n’yan, mga parameters, ano ‘yong magiging kaayusan. ‘Yan ay mga bagay na maraming pasikot-sikot na dapat pag-usapan ng masinsinan (We are not against it and we are open to this. We have not received appropriate guidance, like the framework, the parameters, the organizational details. These are complicated matters that need to be discussed carefully),” he said.
“Kung laban sa terorismo, hindi kami tututol d’yan at handa kami kung mag-aalok ng pakikipagtulungan si Presidente Duterte … Pero maraming dapat linawin na mga parameters kaugnay d’yan (If it’s fighting terrorism, we’re not opposed toit and we’re ready to offer our help. But there are many parameters to clarify on the matter),” he added.
Tiamzon also said the movement would expect de-escalation or the lifting of the all-out war policy that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier declared against the NPA, since the communist armed wing was not included in the coverage of martial law.
He said there have been reports on the ground that the military was still launching offensives against the NPA in Mindanao.
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) over the weekend questioned the statements of Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza that the intensified offensives of the New People’s Army (NPA) against the government had put the quest for peace talks “in great jeopardy.”
In a statement, the NDFP pointed instead at the government’s “all-out war” against the NPA: “OPAPP Secretary Dureza’s assertion … totally obscures the fact that the GRP has been waging an “all-out-war” against the NPA, conducting offensive operations and aerial bombings of communities regardless of “collateral damage” – all on the direct and standing orders of President Duterte,” the NDFP said in a statement.