WATCH | Du30 stops peace talks as Reds intensify attacks amid impending martial law extension

July 19, 2017 - 5:07 PM
Rodrigo Duterte in front of CPP-NPA flag_Reuters file
Reuters file photo of President Rodrigo Duterte in front of a CPP flag.

MANILA, Philippines – There’ll be no peace talks if there is no ceasefire.

President Rodrigo Duterte gave this take-it-or-leave-it deal to communist rebels as he instructed Tuesday night members of the government panel negotiating with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines not to resume formal peace talks with the Reds unless they agree to stop their attacks against government troops in Mindanao.

Duterte’s order came just hours before the New People’s Army (NPA) allegedly staged an ambush in Brgy. Katipunan, Arakan, North Cotabato early Wednesday killing a militiaman and wounding four members of the President’s security personnel.

The incident took place along a secluded stretch of a highway where members of the Presidential Security Group, led by Sgt. Ferbello Galleno, who were on their way to Bukidnon from Davao City, ran through a checkpoint in Barangay Gambudes along the Davao-Arakan route allegedly set up by the rebels.

It was also reported on Wednesday that the NPA attacked DOLE Philippines’ banana plantation in Sitio Ibo, Brgy. Anahao Daan, Tago, Surigao del Sur.

A third attack believed to have been carried out also by the NPA took place Wednesday morning in Roxas town in Palawan, killing two Marines.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said the fifth round of talks with the communists was supposed to resume next month but this would no longer push through following Duterte’s order.

He said the chief executive had only agreed to have backchannel talks with the rebels about ceasefire and their alleged extortion activities and offensives.

“The talks, the fifth round are still officially suspended, okay? There is no decision to resume it. Ang in-okay ng Pangulo ay ‘yong mag-backchannel, informal, quiet. So we can bring to them the issues of no extortion, cease-fire, attacks,” Dureza told reporters Wednesday.

In a statement, the NPA said that it “must continue to strengthen itself nationwide by carrying out armed counteractions and offensives across the country to defeat the Mindanao martial law and nationwide all-out war.”

The armed group of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) claimed that the “martial law in Mindanao is directed at the NPA and the Party-led forces as much as the Moro people.”

The CPP said the extension of military rule until December “will result in worse military and police abuses” and “will prolong the restrictions against civil and political freedom and aggravate violations of people’s democratic rights.”

Dureza said the communists’ stand was no longer surprising because “they have been against Martial Law ever since.”

“But you know, it’s the President’s call. The President is the one running the country. They are not,” he added.

Meanwhile, Duterte’s spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that “it is time for the CPP/NPA/NDFP to reciprocate the government’ gestures of goodwill by ending their extortion and criminal activities and re-directing their energy to help eradicate terrorism and violent extremism in Mindanao.”

“To show that the CPP/NPA/NDP is truly in pursuit of peaceful coexistence, they must stand against a common enemy, regardless of martial law extension,” added Abella.