Aquino: Arrest of CPP-NPA leaders ‘serious blow’ to communist insurgency

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Monday, March 24, 2014


PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III on Monday said the arrest of two leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) was a "serious blow" to Maoist group while it shows the competence of the government security forces.

The Chief Executive, in an interview, said that he was not surprised with the arrest of Benito Tiamzon, chairman of the CPP-NPA, and his wife Wilma, secretary general, in Cebu last Saturday.

"Now, I believe it does deliver a serious blow. And it shows you also the competency of our security forces," he said.

Last week, the President said that the public would be surprised as another high profile fugitives would be arrested following the apprehension of real estate developer Delfin Lee.

Aquino also dismissed the threat reportedly by Jose Ma. Sison, founding chairman of the CPP-NPA, of fresh attacks by the leftist rebels following the arrest of their officials.

"The attacks have not ceased. So, what are they saying? For them, it's business as usual I guess," he said.

The President also did not see any effect on the peace process the arrest of the rebel leaders, stressing that it was the National Democratic Front, the political wing of the CPP-NPA, that should be blamed for the collapse of the talks last year.

"They have walked out to the CPP-NPA and they have walked out to the peace talks, if you remember correctly. Does it have an impact? I don't think so. It really depends on their willingness to go back to the bargaining table," he said.

While the CPP-NPA top officials were already apprehended, the President admitted that the government has to still address the "root causes" of the problem to end the more than four-decade communist insurgency.

"We have to deal with the root causes of the problem. And of course, that’s why we are focus on empowering our people especially in trying to move them out of poverty in the various interventions that we have been doing from education, to health, to livelihood, to housing, to disaster preparedness and so on and so forth," Aquino said.

An lawmaker meanwhile said the arrest of the Tiamzon couple should serve as signal for the resumption of the peace talks.

"The arrests of the Tiamzon couple should encourage the Aquino government to reopen and resume the peace talks with communist rebels. Their arrests should not be taken as political impediments for the resumption of the peace negotiations," said Quezon City Representative Winston Castelo.

Castelo said that the current administration seemingly felt it would be useless to discuss any peace settlement when "the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the NDF were not on the same page."

"Their arrests clear the way for the resumption… they should go to the negotiating table in the soonest time possible for the sake of our people," Castelo said. (SDR/John Carlo Cahinhinan/Sunnex)

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