Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison’s tirades against President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) 70 clearly indicate that the government’s counter-insurgency efforts are on the right path.
Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., deputy chief of staff for civil military operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and spokesman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), said Sison’s description of EO 70 as “the most comprehensive and the biggest obstacle” to peace talks clearly showed he is fearful of the government move.
Sison’s concern over EO 70, Parlade said, is actually an indication of the government’s success in defeating insurgency through Mr. Duterte’s whole-of-nation approach.
Parlade stressed the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), are now being hit hard by EO 70 which paved the way for the activation of NTF-ELCAC.
“Keeping in mind the duplicity and ambiguity of these communists, we just have to deduce the reverse of most of what they utter. Sison is once again propagandizing, if not blatantly lying when he declares that EO is an obstacle to peace talks,” said Parlade.
“What this liar actually meant is that the EO is too comprehensive for them to even come up with an effective and acceptable counter narrative. EO70 is damn too precise that it hits all the CPP programs, including recruitment of cadres,” he added.
So far, Parlade said that a total of 11,697 NPA fighters and supporters have surrendered to the government after realizing they ae fighting for a lost cause.
According to Parlade, the CPP -NPA is currently suffering from lack of leadership as indicated in Sison’s five-year plan for 2017-2021.
“In their own assessment they said it’s the lack of leadership and poor quality of their cadres. This is very revealing as they have been suffering from tactical defeat after defeat, all over the country,” Parlade said.
“Mass surrenders have been normal events, after Local Peace Engagements (LPE) initiated by the local government units have been effectively drawing support from stakeholders who want genuine peace,” he added.
Under EO 70, these engagements were complemented by other programs targeting poverty reduction, provision of livelihood and delivery of basic services, infrastructure, people empowerment and sectoral unification.
“All of these programs are being implemented without the presence of armed state forces. They are designed to catalyze development in environments of genuine peace. For the most part they are being implemented by former soldiers in the cabinet who knew exactly what this insurgency is all about — good governance,” said Parlade.
“Sison is either too stupid or naive not to see the difference between the peace we are already achieving and the fake peace they are trying to offer again,” he added.
Mr. Duterte recently expressed openness to resume talks between the government and the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to give peace a chance.
Early this year, the President terminated all peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDFP.
Meanwhile, Sison said they are open to resuming peace negotiations with the government “in a country near the Philippines.”
Sison said the NDFP, a coalition of organizations linked to the CPP which represents it in peace talks, has agreed to resume negotiations with the government “provided certain issues are first settled.”
The CPP chief added that he will meet Mr. Duterte “at a certain point in time,” but would want to meet him somewhere near the Philippines first.