Lacson pushes for localized peace talks; urges gov’t to exclude Sison from talks with Reds

Maris Federez   •   April 17, 2019   •   2260

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson (Courtesy: pinglacson.com)

Senator Panfilo Lacson believes it is high time for the government to focus its peace talk efforts with those who do not listen to Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison.

Lacson stressed that the strength of the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels differs depending on their localities and that a localized peace talks is a much better way to stop the problem with communist rebels.

The senator said, “such a move is long in coming. I have always believed that this is the better way to deal with the five-decade insurgency problem.”

Lacson made the statement following President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to create a new peace panel tasked to “oversee” localized peace talks.

Lacson added that he had dealt with the NPA when he was still with the Philippine National Police which he headed from 1999 to 2001 and had been battling for localized peace talks since then up until now as a member of the Senate.

“I have been batting for localized peace talks and in fact strongly suggested the same to former Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III in one committee hearing of the Senate Committee on Peace and Unification chaired and presided by Senator Gregorio Honasan II,” he added.

Lacson also suggested that local government officials negotiate with guerilla leaders in areas where the NPA is not that influential, while the military focuses on areas where the NPAs are a threat.

 “So it is better that governors and mayors and other LGU officials be the ones to talk to local communist guerrillas, under the guidance and direction of a government peace panel that will provide the parameters for such localized peace talks but with enough flexibility in handling such peace initiatives,” he said.

Lacson believes that it is useless to deal with Sison, as he does not have control over the NPA.

“Experience has shown that while Sison asks for a ceasefire and government accommodates his request, NPAs continue conducting ambushes and raids. This shows Sison no longer has control over the NPA’s armed regulars,” Lacson added.

The NPA, the armed wing of the CPP, had been declared by the Philippine government, as well as the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, as a terrorist organization. – Maris Federez

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)

Duterte threatens to declare martial law if NPA attacks continue

Marje Pelayo   •   April 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte emphatically threatened to declare martial law if ‘lawlessness’ and attacks by New People’s Army (NPA) will continue against government forces escorting aid distribution in villages amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

In his public address aired on Friday (April 24) the President said he is directing the military and police for that matter.

“I am now warning everybody and putting notice to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and police. I might declare martial law and there will be no turning back,” President Duterte said.

Army officials have reported recent attacks by NPA rebels on government relief operations such as in Aurora province and in Davao City, killing two soldiers and wounding two others, respectively.

According to the Constitution, any part of the country may be placed under military or martial rule “in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.”

On April 16, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the political arm of the NPA, announced that it was extending the unilateral ceasefire with government forces until the end of April to give priority to COVID-19 response. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

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

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)

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