CPP: “‘No’ is a no” to localized peace talks 

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 July) –The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) expressed confidence that all New People’s Army (NPA) units on the ground are firmly united under a central leadership, reiterating its position that a “’no’ is a no” to the localized peace talks that are now being pushed by the Duterte administration.

In a statement released on Saturday, the CPP said the entire leadership of the CPP, along with the national command of the NPA and all revolutionary forces under the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) firmly reject this localized peace talks.

“To the power-fuddled brains in Malacañang – rejection might feel alien to the ‘Yes’-men like you, but a ‘no’ is a no,” it said, adding that the local NPA commands across the country have already rejected the local talks while other regional and local commands are to issue their own statements.

The CPP also lambasted Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque who said the local peace efforts are aimed at “fighting insurgents on the ground and not their alleged leaders living comfortable lives in Europe.”

“Roque vainly hopes to sow intrigue among the revolutionary forces by harping on the worn-out fairy tale about the ‘comfortable lives’ of the NDFP’s representatives abroad, when in fact, it is he and his fellow bureaucrats with fat wallets in Malacañang who are so alienated from Philippine realities,” it said.

The CPP said the localized peace talks fail just like the Davao City Peace Committee created by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte last year to meet and negotiate with communist guerillas.

“Even Mayor Sara Duterte of Davao City had given up on her pet project of local peace talks knowing how foolish she would appear talking to her own shadow,” it added.

In a press release issued by the City Information Office on July 6, Mayor  Duterte said the city will no longer pursue the localized peace talks with the local revolutionary forces and would instead focus on extending development programs in insurgency-affected areas.

“We have already tried it and we have learned that it would be better if we deliver development initiatives and projects directly to the communities where they are most needed,” Duterte said.

She said it would be counterproductive to the existing programs currently undertaken by the Task Force Peace 911 or Peace 911 that was created in May to replace the Davao City Peace Committee that she formed last year.

The CPP claimed that what the masses demand is not local peace talks but an end to Duterte’s total war against civilians, aerial bombings, the alleged military occupation of communities, sham campaign of forcing people to enlist as surrenderers, widespread killings and other abuses.

Roque said on Thursday that Malacañang  will issue an executive order setting the guidelines for the localized peace talks that will be undertaken by insurgency-affected local government units where the NPA operates.

The local peace talks would be pursued if leaders of the communist group will not agree to the conditions set by Presidente Duterte for the resumption of the peace talks with the NDFP: venue in the country, no collection of revolutionary tax, no hostilities, NPA fighters to be confined to their camps; and no coalition government.

Roque added the guideline includes the localized peace negotiation as “nationally orchestrated, centrally directed and locally supervised and implemented;” that it should not compromise the constitutional integrity and sovereignty; and shall cover the NPAs, organs of political power and Militia ng Bayan for a complete and genuine resolution of the local armed conflict.

The third is the constitutional mandate of the state to protect public safety, civilian welfare, critical infrastructure and private properties and the guarantee of rule of law and order will not be compromised at all times even if a ceasefire is between the two local peace channels is in place, he added.

Roque also cited “government goodwill, full amnesty package based on disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration to the mainstream of society.”

For the local peace talks to proceed, he said the President requires that it should be held in a local venue, no coalition government or power-sharing, no revolutionary taxes, extortion, arson and violent activities and the fighters remain in their pre-designated encampment areas.

He said the substantive agenda will be based on the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan and Philippine Development Program 2040. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)