Peace talks stalled.
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Gone are the times when the Reds were principled folk with the general good of the masses in mind. But, all that has changed with the times; money is the main culprit in the change.
I modern days, money is such a need that it relegates all other values to the distant background. And, therein lies the reason for the reluctance to strike a peace deal. Hence, this is the single most crucial factor for the failure of the seniors in the NDF.
They learnt to adopt and follow certain doctrines with money as a secondary tool. But, they are unable to have their way with the youngsters of the New People’s ARMY (NPA).
Furthermore, the cadres of the communists cannot work hard for their livelihood. Their early training equipped them to kidnap, kill, exploit and extort. These are child’s play as compared to affording your own land, cattle and family upbringing through toiling in the fields.
Hence, any peace initiative cannot see the light of day irrespective of what President Duterte or Joma Sison want. Any amount of enthusiasm on the part of these leaders is bound to fail invariably.
Hence, these factors resulted in the failure of the latest round of talks between the NDF and the government. But, the last straw was the call by the reds to their guerillas to attack the government forces. The communists took shelter behind the imposition of martial law in Mindanao.
Looks like the reds just wanted an excuse to call off the talks and please their cadres who need money. Thus, the communists saved face and conveyed to the masses that they had a valid excuse..
The government on Sunday formally announced their withdrawal from the fifth round of talks.
Chief government negotiator, Jesus Dureza informed newsmen following a marathon session behind closed doors. The reds had been prolonging the peace talks through delaying tactics and unreasonable demands.
The talks which formally began in August last year, have not been really productive in spite of President Duterte’s enthusiasm. There was hard bargaining from the communist insurgents and there were never any hopes of a deal materializing.
The two sides were currently tackling issues that included:
• Social and Economic reforms as demanded by the NDF,
• Human rights issues reflecting the needs of the communists, and
• Modalities and conditions for an interim ceasefire.
Observers were surprised that the order to attack came from the reds while the government was fighting the Islamists. Thus, the order to attack the government forces stalled the talks on Saturday.
The intense fighting in the south has claimed over 100 lives in the last week.
The negotiators objected to the orders of the reds and refused to talk further till the environment improved. Dureza told journalists that there was no likelihood of resumption of talks unless the peace was sustainable and just.
He also emphasized that the communists’ order to enhance attacks was also a factor towards the government’s decision to withdraw. However, Dureza clarified that this withdrawal was only from this round of talks.
It did not imply that the government was withdrawing from the peace process as a whole. Elisabeth Slattum, special envoy of Norway, elaborated that this did not cancel the whole peace initiative; the peace process will continue, she said.
The terrorists of the Islamic State have a foothold in the south of the Philippines and are trying to consolidate. Besides, they also want to command the respect of the majority Muslims and take them under their wings.
That prompted the attack at Marawi which has so far claimed more than a hundred victims. Furthermore, intelligence reports suggested some more rebel activity down south.
Consequently, President Duterte declared martial law on Tuesday to quell the rebellion in the initial stages. Communist insurgents too saw this as an opportunity to make their own hay in the melee.
This prompted Fidel Agcaoili, the Chief rebel negotiator to suggest to his leaders to reconsider the order to attack. But, he regretted that this may take some time, In addition, he deeply regretted the decision of the government to walk away from the peace talks.
He said the NDFP, a coalition of several groups of which the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is among the most prominent, “deeply regretted” Manila’s decision to shelve the talks.
Furthermore, the NDFP issued a statement decrying the government’s decision. They stated that this revealed the government’s resolve to wage an all out war against the NPA
He was of the opinion that the armed conflict will escalate as a result of the imposition of martial law in southern Mindanao. Consequently, the masses will suffer and violations of human rights will increase due to the escalated armed conflict, he said.
Its armed youth wing, the New People’s Army, spearheads the communist insurgency. The conflict that began in 1968 is one of the longest in the world and it claimed 30,000 lives.
The President with a socialist mindset, Duterte confidently stated the peace process since he understood the problems. But, he met with stiff resistance from the insurgents who had their own priorities.
Norway, the specialist in negotiations, stepped forward and arranged repeated rounds of talks. But, it soon became evident that the agenda of the reds was quite different from what the government thought.
It was Norway that managed to get the two sides to the negotiating table; but, the effort was fruitless. The current talks are at a scenic resort Noordwijk aan Zee, about 70 kilometers (45 miles) from Utrecht.
Ironically, this place is home to many rebels who come here to spend their exile after creating trouble in their own countries.
Duterte, who understands the long-standing grievances of these rebels, thought these insurgents deserved a chance. But, contrary to his belief, the response from the communists was far from matching.
All that he wanted was for the rebels to come to the mainstream and give up a life of hiding arson and extortion.
Even during the course of the talks communists were at their treacherous worst making unreasonable demands. They killed several soldiers and policemen and Duterte called off the talks.
And, while the security forces shed their blood, NPA fighters continue their antinational activities. The military does its best to counter the insurgents and stop the arson, extortion and killings that are a daily occurrence.
In their quest for money, the NPA rebels extort money from businesses and individuals while attacking minor police and military posts.
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Written for: Lars-Magnus Carlsson
Monday, 29 May 2017