MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has announced the formal termination of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
In a speech at the 122nd anniversary of the Philippine Army in Taguig City, Duterte also issued a warning to communist rebels to stop land-grabbing activities or they might be shot by soldiers and the police.
“I am officially announcing the permanent termination of the talks between the government panel and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP),” Duterte said. “My sense is that you can maybe talk to the next president of this republic one day.”
Duterte’s statement came days after he terminated the appointments of the five-man government negotiating panel led by Labor secretary Silvestre Bello III, citing the cancellation of the talks way back in November 2017.
“I would like to announce that I am no longer entertaining any interventions or maybe persuasions in this democratic state of the Republic of the Philippines,” the President added.
When Duterte assumed the presidency in 2016, hopes were high for the end of the communist insurgency due to his close ties with CPP founder Jose Maria Sison.
September last year, Duterte said the communist insurgency may be over by the second quarter of 2019 following the surrender of NPA members and fall of several guerilla fronts in Mindanao.
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) urged New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and their supporters to abandon the armed struggle and return to the fold of the law.
AFP Public Affairs Office chief, Colonel Noel Detoyato, said yesterday they would persuade the rebels to surrender and avail of the government’s livelihood assistance, and not just focus on armed engagements.
The NPA is the armed wing of the CPP.
“We have troops addressing the armed groups. Local government units are also helping in the promotion and conduct of local peace talks. But now that the President has spoken, the AFP will be relentless in pursuing the rebels not only with arms but with offers for them to abandon the armed struggle and avail themselves of the benefits offered by Task Force Balik Loob,” said Detoyato.
Task Force Balik Loob is the government body tasked to implement the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), a community-based national program to address the security, economic, social, and psychological rehabilitation needs of former rebels.
Among the benefits and other forms of assistance given to beneficiaries are:
* safety and security
* P15,000 in immediate assistance
* P21,000 to defray the subsistence or meals cost
* support for relocation
* P50,000 in livelihood assistance
* temporary shelter
* PhilHealth enrollment
* medical assistance package
* housing assistance and/or housing unit
* modified Conditional Cash Transfer
* legal assistance
* livelihood materials
Detoyato said Executive Order (EO) 70, which institutionalized a whole-of-nation approach in attaining peace and created a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, would address the void left by the termination of the peace talks with the communist rebels.
The NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. (With a report from the Philippine News Agency/PN)