LACSON: LOCAL TALKS BEST ROUTE TO PEACE WITH COMMUNIST REBELS
NPA rebels no longer listen to Joma
By ROGER M. BALANZA
Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said talking peace with exiled communist leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison may not be on the right track as New People’s Army (NPA) rebels appear to be no longer listening to the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
Because of this, Lacson said “localizing the peace talks is still the better way,” to achieve peace with the communists.
President Rodrigo Duterte is resuming peace talks with the National Democratic Front Philippines (NDFP), the umbrella group of leftist organizations in the country, wherein Sison would be an active player in the communists’ negotiating panel as NDFP chief consultant. Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, the government chief negotiator, said the talks could resume early next year.
Lacson said having Sison in the communist panel may be misplaced as he no longer has control over the NPA, the armed wing of the CPP.
The Senator said NPA rebels no longer heed the orders of Sison as demonstrated by communist guerillas who launched separate attacks in Iloilo and Camarines Norte provinces despite a 15-day ceasefire declared by Duterte and the NDFP.
“The latest attack on our soldiers by NPA rebels despite the ceasefire simply means that they don’t listen to Joma Sison anymore,” Lacson said in a tweet.
Sison downplayed the NPA attacks, saying they “do not mean willful and systematic violations of ceasefire” since they were isolated cases.
The CPP founder earlier expressed openness to resume with negotiations with government in a country near the Philippines.
Lacson also raised another possibility that if indeed the NPA rebels still listened to Sison, he could have been lying about his desire to resume peace talks.
“Either that, or he cannot and should not be trusted. Localizing the peace talks is still the better way, I think,” he added.
On Sunday, Duterte ordered a 15-day ceasefire from December 23 until January 7 next year as a confidence-building measure ahead of the resumption of formal peace talks with consultants of the NDFP, the CPP’s political arm.
However, suspected communist guerrillas ambushed policemen and soldiers in separate attacks in Iloilo and Camarines Norte provinces on Monday morning.
Reports showed that one soldier was killed while two policemen and six others were wounded in the attacks.
Acting Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa were not enough to recommend the immediate cancellation of the ceasefire.
Malacañang said the government is prepared for possible NPA attacks, saying it did not matter if the NPA does not honor its word because the purpose of terrorist organizations is to “put the government down.”
“Let me put it this way: The communist rebels will always want this government to fall; that is precisely the purpose by which this organization has been conceived from the very beginning,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“So it is not far-fetched that they want to eliminate all the officials running this government. But we are prepared for that. We are ready for that, they have been trying to do that for the last 50 years and they have failed,” he added.
Panelo said should the NPA continue to launch attacks despite the ceasefire, it will immediately destroy the presumption of its sincerity in resuming the peace talks. (with PNA report)