MANILA – Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison said the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte “has practically terminated” peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and is “no longer interested” in seeking a negotiated end to the almost 50-year old insurgency.
Sison’s observation came two days after Duterte said he was “not so keen” about the NDFP’s offer to help the government combat extremism and reiterated an earlier demand that “either we continue to talk about peace but we have to stop fighting.”
The government panel refused to participate in the fifth round of talks, supposed to open May 26, over the CPP’s order for the New People’s Army to intensify attacks following Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao. Although the government said martial law was not targeted against the communists, the rebels pointed to pronouncements by defense and military officials that repeatedly identified them as among the problems Duterte’s declaration is supposed to address.
Duterte has also threatened to arrest Philippine-based rebel negotiators and consultants when they return to the country.
In a statement, Sison, who is also chief political consultant of the NDFP, also noted that the “Duterte regime has been carrying an all-out war policy against the CPP-NPA-NDFP since last year even when there were supposed to be unilateral but simultaneous and reciprocal ceasefire declarations.”
He said martial law, which covers the whole of Mindanao, including areas “where the NPA is present and even where the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups are absent,” has aggravated the “all-out war.”
Sison also pointed to what he called “public statements to insult and attack the revolutionary movement of the people” as proof the government “is no longer interested in peace negotiations.”
He said, “The language of abuse somehow reflects the barbarism of the regime and the AFP in raining bombs and artillery fire on communities, forcing people to evacuate and occupying communities.”
Sison also accused the government of seeking only the “surrender and pacification of the revolutionary forces and people,” and not the “social, economic and political reforms” needed to solve the root causes of rebellion, while implementing a “policy of mass murder.”
Sison said the “revolutionary movement can never agree to a surrender and pacification scheme under the guise of a protracted and prolonged ceasefire that is one-sided and lays aside the demands of the people for social, economic and political reforms.”
He warned that “the revolutionary forces and the people in the Philippines can best make the response in words and deeds” to Dutere’s perceived scuttling of the peace talks.