AFP to NPA: Drop Joma

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PCOO File Photo

‘WE CAN FORGE PEACE’

Duterte stressed that the only way for the peace talks to move forward is for the other parties to agree to his conditions

Echoing President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to New People’s Army (NPA) combatants to surrender, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday challenged the Maoist rebels to abandon Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison and forge peace with government.

Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesman, said now is the best time for communist fighters to rejoin the mainstream society with the all-out support being offered by the Duterte administration to rebel-returnees.

“Their so-called people’s revolution is already passé as more and more Filipinos — including the ones in their losing army of communists — have already realized the inutility of their ideology,” Arevalo said.

Arevalo also called the CPP-NPA as a terror combine.

On Saturday, Mr. Duterte said he was willing to accept NPA rebels back to the fold of the law if they decide to lay down their arms.

The President said he is open to localized peace talks, like the one being advocated by his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Mr. Duterte dismissed negotiating with Sison, who is in exile in The Netherlands.

The NPA does not need the likes of Sison to broker for peaceful and meaningful lives for them

Arevalo parroted the President’s pronouncement against Sison.

“The NPA does not need the likes of Sison to broker for peaceful and meaningful lives for them. They can, as the AFP has been supporting, avail themselves of localized peace talks,” Arevalo said.

“That is more responsive to their particular needs and situations,” he added.

According to Arevalo, “CPP leaders abroad are out of touch and have only their personal interests to protect in making ludicrous demands for the talks but do not perform their share to make peace work.”

Their so-called people’s revolution is already passé.

The military claimed thousands of NPA rebels have already surrendered, with even more sending surrender feelers due to demoralization in their ranks.

“They now came to realize that while they were being pushed to fight it out in the frontlines, the CPP leadership in Europe and in the cities luxuriate in the money they extort from business persons,” Arevalo said.

Arevalo added rebel-returnees enjoy all-out government assistance under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) to ensure that former rebels will have a holistic package of benefits that they can avail themselves of like health, education, livelihood assistance and legal assistance.

He said the AFP also helps provide qualified ECLIP enrollees protection from their former comrades who might want to deprive rebel-returnees of their opportunity to be with their families and the mainstream society again.

it’s okay. Drop the firearms, drop the gun and we will not have a problem.

The President canceled the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the political wing of the CPP-NPA, in 2017 after communist rebels continued attacks against government forces.

But the Chief Executive said he is willing to sit down with the rebels “if they want to surrender.”

After four rounds of talks, government canceled peace talks with the Maoist rebels on 22 November 2017 with President Duterte citing “recent tragic and violent incidents all over the country committed by the communist rebels” as reasons for the termination of the peace process.

Duterte stressed that the only way for the peace talks to move forward is for the other parties to agree to his conditions. Among them is to hold the negotiations in the country, the signing and honoring of a ceasefire, stopping the collection of revolutionary taxes and that no coalition government will be forged if peace is sealed between the two parties.

The security cluster is also waiting for the President to issue an executive order regarding the guidelines in starting localized peace talks with insurgents.

President Duterte agreed to a first round of talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF on 22 to 26 August 2016 in Oslo, Norway.

The second round of talks was held on 6 to 10 October in the same year.

Both camps agreed to impose a ceasefire on armed hostilities during the third round of talks on 19 to 25 January in Rome, Italy. But the agreement did not hold for long with government ending its unilateral ceasefire on 3 February 2017 while the communists followed suit the following day.

The major personalities set free for the talks, including top-ranking communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamson, returned to the underground movement after government issued arrest warrants against them.

CPP leaders abroad are out of touch and have only their personal interests to protect.

Backchannel talks, however, led to the fourth round of talks on 3 to 6 April 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The scheduled fifth round of discussion was suspended following exchanges of harsh words from both Mr. Duterte and Sison while the NPA and the military have resumed intensified attacks against each other.

The military claimed thousands of NPA rebels have already surrendered, with even more sending surrender feelers due to demoralization in their ranks.

The President’s offer is coming amid what military claimed is a CPP-NPA-organized “Red October” Duterte-ouster plot. The AFP claimed it had fizzled out even before it could take off.

But the AFP said the “Red October” is a moving plot and may even take place at yearend when the CPP celebrates its 50th anniversary on 26 December 2018.

“Set down your arms and we will not have a problem. If you wish to join politics, it’s okay.

Drop the firearms, drop the gun and we will not have a problem,” Mr. Duterte said.

“We will not be just friends but Filipino brothers and sisters,” Duterte added.

“Sison and I will no longer talk. But to the other communists, if you don’t want Sison to talk to me, surrender,” Mr. Duterte said.

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