By Francis Wakefield
The Philippine Army (PA) on Friday (March 22, 2019), said that it fully supports the decision of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to terminate the peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
In a statement, Army Spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, said the Army commit to the pro-peace and development thrusts of the government which is centered on the whole-of-nation approach to attain inclusive and sustainable peace.
“Rest assured that your Army, in partnership with our stakeholders, will steadfastly serve the people and secure the land,” Zagala said.
“The Army will ensure that all available capabilities and resources will be downloaded to our troops on the ground in order to be more effective and efficient in addressing the different terror threats. To end the communist armed conflict the soonest possible time with a whole of government approach,” he added.
President Duterte has permanently terminated the government’s peace talks with the communist terrorist group, saying the rebels could try to talk peace with his successor instead.
With the peace talks over, the President has also directed the military to step up the operations against the communist rebels in the hope the insurgency could be finished within his term.
“I am officially announcing the permanent termination of our talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines,” Duterte said during the 122nd-anniversary celebration of the Philippine Army in Taguig City on Thursday, March 21.
“I’d like to announce that I am no longer entertaining any interventions or maybe persuasions in this democratic state of the Republic of the Philippines. My sense is that you can maybe talk to [the] next President of this Republic one day,” he added.
The President made the announcement after terminating the services of the government peace panel chaired by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III that previously negotiated with the communist group.
The government instead will create a new panel that will supervise localized peace engagements. The panel will reportedly include representatives from different sectoral groups, local government units, and the military.
In November 2017, President Duterte issued Proclamation No. 360 declaring the termination of peace negotiations with the communist rebel group.
The proclamation stated that despite the government’s best efforts, the communist group failed to show sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine peace talks amid its involvement in acts of violence and hostilities that endanger the lives and properties of innocent people.
In his speech, the President urged government troops to “never waver” in their commitment to perform their duties and “intensify focused military operations against the communist terrorist group.”
He said such operations, alongside the civil-military strategy, would persuade more rebels to surrender and return to the fold of the law.