Missing ‘sanctions’ for NPA killers led to peace talks collapse

Missing 'sanctions' for NPA killers led to peace talks collapse

Missing 'sanctions' for NPA killers led to peace talks collapse
Missing 'sanctions' for NPA killers led to peace talks collapse

MANILA – The Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) disinclination to impose sanctions on communist guerrillas killing government workers and civilians led to the collapse of peace negotiations, President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday.

In a speech delivered in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Duterte said he had terminated the peace talks with the CPP’s political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), because it did not want to hold its members accountable for their killing spree.

“Bumagsak ‘yung peace talks. Lahat nang binigay na mga proposal, at binigay ko rin sa military, sabi ko you study, pero ako talaga, pagtanggap ko, hindi na (The peace talks were stalled. All the proposals — which I asked the military to study — were unacceptable). And there was this one missing ingredient to arrive really at a peaceful resolution of the country. ‘Yung accountability, wala (There’s no accountability),” he said during the joint meeting of the National Task Force (NTF) and Regional Task Force (RTF) to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC).

Duterte lamented that the CPP wanted to craft a peace deal with the government that has a “missing ingredient,” which he said is the agreement to punish members of the communist movement’s armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), for killing people.

He said he would just “fight forever” with the NPA fighters rather than enter into a peace pact that does not contain any provisions that will hold them responsible for killing state forces, government personnel, and innocent individuals.

“The accountability, whatever, if they have any against us or against them, wala (it’s not there). At ayaw nilang idiscuss iyan. Sabi ko, wala na (And they don’t want to discuss it. I said, no more [peace talks]). No peace talks. We will fight forever, if ako ang masunod (if I’d be asked what to do),” Duterte said.

Duterte said he had already accepted the fate of the stalled peace negotiations, stressing that he could not allow NPA rebels to continue launching attacks against government troops and civilians.

“Kaya ako, hindi talaga. Sabi ko may kulang dito (So, I said no. I said there’s a missing [ingredient]. One ingredient is really the sanctions sa ano, yung mga insurgent (for insurgents killing people). Hindi tayo. Tayo ang gobyerno eh. Hindi naman tayo papatay kung walang rason (The sanctions could not be applied to us. We are in the government. We are not killing people without any reason),” he said.

Duterte, nevertheless, said he has “high hopes” that his government would be able to maintain peace and order in the country despite the termination of talks with the communists.

He also lauded the NTF-ELCAC and RTF-ELCAC for their efforts to address the insurgency problem.

“I am certain that you will champion the security of our fellow Filipinos, despite the forces that try to prevent us from becoming stronger and more progressive nations,” Duterte told the NTF-ELCAC and RTF-ELCAC. “The good that you have done is significant in building and restoring the people’s trust and confidence in government.”

Duterte also commended them for extending the “much-needed” social services to conflict-affected areas “with strong sense of urgency and concern.”

“Your quick response for the needs of our kababayans speak well of your faithfulness to duty and love of country,” he said. “We all deserve in this life what we aspire for. Your important work in peace-building and fighting extremism has also paved the way for the improved well-being of our people.”

The peace talks between the national government and NDF have been intermittent since 1986.

Duterte held a series of peace talks with the NDF, but decided to scrap the negotiations following the NPA’s relentless attacks against government troops and civilians.

He formally ended the peace dialogue with the NDF through Proclamation 360 inked on Nov. 23, 2017.

The termination of talks was followed by the Dec. 5, 2017 signing of Proclamation 273 which declared the CPP-NPA as a terror group.

The CPP-NPA has been listed as a terror organization by the Philippines, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

The NDF has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and separate part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)