CPP denies ‘hit list’ claim; accuses Esperon of sabotaging possible peace talks resumption

Robie de Guzman   •   December 20, 2019   •   756

Fighters of the New People’s Army-Melito Glor Command (NPA-MGC) gather at an undisclosed location in the mountains of Sierra Madre in Quezon Province, south of Manila, Philippines, 26 December 2018, to celebrate the 50th year founding of the Communist Party of the Philippines (issued 27 December 2018). EPA-EFE/
ALECS ONGCAL

MANILA, Philippines – The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Friday denied claims its armed wing, New People’s Army (NPA) has a “hit list,” as earlier alleged by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

In a statement issued Friday, the CPP said Esperon’s claim was just a ploy that aims to “sow intrigue in order to sabotage the planned resumption of formal peace talks.”

“Together with fellow peace antagonists Delfin Lorenzana of the Department of National Defense and DILG’s Eduardo Año, Esperon is adamant in adhering to GRP President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement to resume the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines,” the communist group added.

On Tuesday, Esperon revealed they have received reports on the alleged assassination plans of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA against him, Duterte, Año and other government officials ahead of the group’s founding anniversary on December 26. 

He advised law enforcement and security forces in the country to take countermeasures against the possible threat.

But according to the communist group, it is the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) who have tagged activists to their “infamous orders of battle.”

“It is in fact the AFP and PNP who keep in their infamous ‘orders of battle’ names of activists, progressives, and other individuals supportive of the people’s struggles for democratic rights,” the CPP statement read.

“It is the regime’s death squads in the military and police who have killed close to 300 peasants, workers, indigenous peoples, human rights workers, journalists, lawyers and other democratic forces in the last three years,” it continued.

The issue on the alleged NPA hit list came after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the government’s chief peace negotiator, said that the peace talks with the Reds may likely resume soon.

Bello said he met with communist party founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison and National Democratic Front senior adviser Fidel Agcaoili in the Netherlands earlier this month following Duterte’s order to talk to Sison on the possibility of resuming peace negotiations.

Duterte ends peace talks with Reds for killing soldiers in relief missions

Marje Pelayo   •   April 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The series of attacks against government forces on humanitarian missions during this time of crisis is the final straw for President Rodrigo Duterte to end peace talks with the communist rebels. 

“I’m so sad about this development but there will always be a time for reckoning. There is no more peace talks to talk about,” the Chief Executive said in his late night address on Monday (April 27).

A number of soldiers were killed and wounded in several encounters with members of the New People’s Army — the Communist Party of the Philippines’ armed wing — throughout the month of April. 

Three soldiers died and four others were hurt in an encounter with the NPA while conducting security patrol during the distribution of the social amelioration grant in Sitio Tugas, Barangay Carabalan in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental on April 19. 

An Army soldier was also killed in a remote village in San Jacinto town, Masbate province on the same day.

Two soldiers, meanwhile, were killed while three others were wounded in an attack by communist rebels in Aurora province on April 21. The soldiers were stationed in the area guarding the conduct of aid distribution. 

Two more soldiers were injured in an attack by NPA rebels in Victorias City, Negros Occidental on April 24. 

The Philippine Army said the soldiers, together with members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were conducting a security patrol and information dissemination about COVID-19 in the area.

“I am not and I will never be ready for any rounds of peace talks simply because the NPA, the Communist Party of the Philippines, has no respect either for their spoken works or in their deeds of killing soldiers who are on humanitarian missions,” President Duterte stressed.

READ: Duterte threatens to declare martial law if NPA attacks continue

The President earlier threatened to declare martial law if atrocities against government forces engaged in relief distribution continue. 

READ: Duterte’s new martial law threat, a cover-up for failed COVID-19 response — CPP

But the CPP, unfazed by the President’s warning, responded by accusing him of using the NPA as an excuse ‘to cover up’ the administration’s failed response against the COVID-19 crisis and to carry out his agenda of imposing martial law. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

Ceasefire extension with NPA up to Duterte, anti-insurgency task force – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The decision on whether or not to extend the administration’s unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels is up to President Rodrigo Duterte and the National Task Force on Ending Local Armed Conflict, Malacañang said on Sunday.

“On whether government would extend the unilateral ceasefire, this matter is something the National Task Force on Ending Local Armed Conflict can discuss with the President,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

The government’s declaration of unilateral ceasefire against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) lapsed on April 15 while the rebels extended its truce until April 30 or until the end of the COVID-19 Luzon-wide community quarantine.

However, Roque said the rebels violated their own declaration of ceasefire when they “forcibly seized relief goods last April 7 intended for Barangay Guinmayohan residents in Balangiga, Eastern Samar” who were affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

“The call for peace is everyone’s desire and it has become more urgent in the present state of calamity and public health emergency,” he said.

“We find it, however, unfortunate that the members of the New People’s Army (NPA) themselves violated their own declaration of truce in the form of violent armed encounters with government troops,” he added.

The CPP earlier denied it was behind the incident in Samar, accusing the military of resorting to outright lies and propaganda amid the COVID-19 crisis.

But the Armed Forces of the Philippines stood by the veracity of its report against the CPP-NPA. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

CPP-NDF receives copy of PH gov’t ceasefire order

Robie de Guzman   •   December 27, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The National Democratic Front (NDF), the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), said it has finally received copies of the documents stating the government’s orders for suspension of offensive military operations (SOMO) and the suspension of offensive police operations (SOPO).

Fidel Agcaoili, NDF peace panel chairman, confirmed they received the documents from Labor Secretary and government chief peace negotiator Silvestre Bello III on December 26.

“We hope that from here on the unilateral and reciprocal ceasefires declared by the two Parties shall proceed effectively,” Agcaoili said in a statement.

CPP founder and NDP chief political consultant Jose Maria “Joma” Sison earlier asked for the copies of the government’s written order for the state security troops to stand down in observance of the holiday ceasefire.

Both the government and the communist group declared a truce on Sunday for the holiday season.

President Rodrigo Duterte also ordered the reconstitution of the government’s negotiating panel for the possible resumption of peace talks with the communist rebels.

The holiday ceasefire took effect midnight of December 23 and will end on January 7, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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