ILIGAN CITY - Maoist fighters doubt that the peace negotiations aimed at resolving the lingering communist insurgency in the country will go back on track within the remaining 30 months of President Aquino’s administration.
In a statement marking its 45th founding anniversary Thursday, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) blamed this gloomy prospect of the peace process to Aquino’s supposed disinterest in pursuing a just conclusion to the armed conflict.
“In view of the proven unwillingness of the Aquino regime to negotiate a just peace, the revolutionary movement does not expect the resumption of peace negotiations with the regime. It has no choice but to wait for the next regime to engage in serious negotiations,” the CPP said.
But government said it is not ruling out the communists from the peace table until they would say so.
“For the record, the government has not received any official communication from the CPP expressing their intent to no longer negotiate with the current administration,” said a text message from presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Quintos-Deles.
“If this is indeed their intent, the government, on the other hand, remains committed to work for a peaceful settlement of all internal armed conflict. Government will not close the peace table to those who want to pursue sincere and truthful dialogue in responding to our people’s call for peace,” Deles added.
“We will continue to seek ways to resume negotiations on the basis of a doable and time-bound agenda,” she further stressed.
The CPP is engaged in on-and-off talks with government through the National Democratic Front (NDF) for two decades now. When it resumed under the Aquino administration after six years of being stalled, negotiations with communist rebels follow the regular and special tracks.
The regular track, done through the peace panels, involves building consensus on four substantive agenda as defined by The Hague Joint Declaration inked by the parties on September 1, 1992.
Talks under the regular track have been stalled since February 2011 mainly over the issue of releasing detained NDF consultants. The parties were left on the second agenda, that is, on social and economic reforms. The first agenda, on respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, has been done through an agreement inked on March 16, 1998.
The third agenda is on political and constitutional reforms while the last one is on ending hostilities and disposition of forces.
The special track, which involves talks on a proposal for alliance and truce, is parallel and complementary to the regular track. This is done between CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison and presidential adviser for political affairs Ronald Llamas.
Talks under the special track also stalled since February this year as the parties failed to agree on a joint declaration on, among others, upholding national sovereignty, and the need for genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization.
Had the joint declaration been done, it would have helped pave the way for a meeting between President Aquino and Sison in Hanoi, expectedly early 2013.
Such meeting was planned to take the same significance as the Tokyo meeting of Aquino and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Murad Ebrahim.
The Aquino-Murad meeting helped hasten peace negotiations between government and the MILF.
The CPP said: “the Aquino regime is not at all interested in peace negotiations but the capitulation and pacification of the revolutionary forces and people under the guise of unilateral simultaneous indefinite ceasefires.”
“It has rebuffed the offer of the NDF for truce and alliance or cooperation on the basis of a concise general common intent to realize and carry forward national independence, democracy, social justice, development through land reform and national industrialization, people’s culture and international solidarity,” it added.
For the CPP, the truce and alliance or cooperation “are meant to promote the accelerated negotiation of the remaining comprehensive agreements in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration.”
In the next few years, the CPP has urged its supporters to “do our best to cause the ouster of the Aquino regime or compel Aquino’s resignation from his office...”
“We consider our efforts to remove Aquino from power as part of the process of strengthening the revolutionary movement and overthrowing the entire ruling system...” the CPP said, pointing at the lesson of the legal mass movement driving away the Marcos and Estrada regimes, 15 years apart from each other.
“Even if this would not succeed, the movement would still be strengthened and will further cause the US-Aquino regime to fail in its brutal attempt to destroy the armed revolution of the people,” the CPP added.
The group also ordered its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) to “intensify the offensives” against enemy targets.
“We must wage battles to wipe out enemy units and seize their weapons. This is the way to strengthen the people’s army for the purpose of overthrowing the reactionary state,” said the CPP which is targeting to increase its fighters to 25,000, its peak strength in the late 1980s per estimate of government security forces.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has estimated NPA strength at around 4,000 armed fighters as of mid-2013.
The CPP hopes to capture political power through total military victory, building its armed strength from the countryside where the state is weakest.