DUTERTE PERMANENTLY ENDS PEACE TALKS WITH REDS
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday officially announced the permanent termination of the peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
Duterte made the announcement that drew applause while delivering his speech during the 122nd Philippine Army (PA) founding anniversary in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
“I am officially announcing the permanent termination of our talks between the Government Panel and the Communist Party of the Philippines,” he said.
Duterte said he will no longer entertain “any interventions or maybe persuasions in this democratic state of the Republic of the Philippines”.
“My sense is that you can maybe talk to the next president of this Republic one day,” said Duterte, whose term will end in 2022.
The President mentioned the government’s preference for localized peace engagements.
“It is, indeed, very important to engage stakeholders and communities in combatting insurgency and preventing the spread of extremist ideologies, and I believe that empowering Indigenous Peoples and others in this regard is the key to this fight,” he said.
Duterte said the communist rebels’ call for land reform is already being done under his administration.
“You know I have, to date, distributed something like — 60,000 hectares to land beneficiaries. I mean the only way to make the issue of communism and you know of commonality of things is that you make them irrelevant,” Duterte said.
“And sinasabi ko naman sa komunista hindi naman kayo ang marunong mag-distribute ng lupa (I tell communists that they do not know how to distribute land). I have been at it actually ever since I became President,” he added.
The President said the CPP-NPA, which was declared by the US and European Union as terrorist organization, are also land grabbers.
“It’s not only other people are land grabbers. Communists are. So ‘yung mga asosasyon nila (their associations) amongst the inner group, iyong mga manggagawa na walang ginagawa (those workers doing nothing). Then they try to fish out the lands that they would give to the people. Iyong nangyari doon (What happened there) was they were depriving the original tenants there because they wanted the association to control the distribution,” he said.
Meanwhile, Duterte congratulated the “brave men and women in uniform” for their significant accomplishments in both internal and civil-military operations in many parts of the country.
He described the Army’s accomplishments for the last 122 years as testament of their “unwavering commitment to defend our institutions and our democratic way of life”.
Duterte said through unrelenting efforts of the Filipino soldiers, they have successfully conducted over 550,000 operations resulting in the recovery of almost 6,000 firearms, neutralization of more than 600 families of the enemies, the surrender, and capture and apprehension of over 1,700 lawless elements.
“May these gains inspire you, our valiant soldiers, to never waver in your commitment to perform your duties. Intensify our focused military operations against communist terrorist groups so that, alongside our [civil-military] operations, we may persuade more of their members to surrender and return to the folds of the law,” Duterte said.
His administration, he said, will continue to promote the welfare of the soldiers and their families through decent housing programs.
“We target to complete by June another five condominium buildings for the senior army officers and their families,” Duterte said.
“I assure you that we will continue to pursue these programs as an expression of the Filipino people’s appreciation for all that you have done for our country. Indeed, we are all truly indebted to you for risking life and limb for love of country,” he added.
On Wednesday, Malacañang announced the termination of the appointments of government peace negotiators with communist rebels.
Among those whose appointment papers were terminated include that of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III as chief government negotiator, and government peace panel members Antonio Arellano, Hernani Braganza, Angela Librado-Trinidad and Rene Sarmiento.
On November 23, 2017, Duterte signed Proclamation 360 declaring the termination of peace negotiations with the communists, citing the CPP-NPA-NDF’s supposed failure to show sincerity to the peace process.
In December 2018, Duterte issued EO 70 which institutionalized a whole-of-nation approach in attaining peace and created a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. (PNA)
Photo from AFP/Philstar