Reds call for resumption of peace talks amid cash freeze threat
MANILA, Philippines — Leftist leaders on Saturday again called for the resumption of peace talks after the government announced the designation of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), as terrorist organizations.
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Rafael Baylosis said the communist movement and the government should abandon their all-out war strategy and return to peace negotiations but the Duterte administration should first revoke its designation of the CPP-NPA as terror groups.
The NDFP is the umbrella organization of the national democratic movement in the country and represents the communist insurgency in peace negotiations that have dragged on and off for 34 years.
“The terror law is one of the biggest obstacles [to] the resumption of peace talks between the [government] and the CPP. This is also what halted peace talks under the Arroyo administration, when she prodded the US government to list both the CPP and [its founder] Jose Maria Sison as terrorist[s] [in 2002],” he said. “This was undone by the Aquino administration.”
“To be able to resume peace talks, [the] Duterte administration must undo its actions,” Baylosis added.
Three-term congressman Satur Ocampo, formerly of the leftist group Bayan Muna, insisted that the national democratic movement was engaged in a rebellion and not terrorism.
“Rebellion remains under jurisprudence. The CPP and the NPA insists it is engaged in rebellion and not in terrorism,” Ocampo said.
He said the Duterte administration “has arbitrarily blockaded this road of peace via negotiations by pursuing a brutal military path in addressing the armed conflict.”“There are moments [President Duterte] is very rational, but most of the time he is impulsive. [So] it remains to be seen what will happen in the next 18 months,” Ocampo added.
Forging a peace agreement with the communist insurgency was one of Mr. Duterte’s campaign promises and he named leftist leaders to key Cabinet positions in a bid to end the 51-year insurgency.
But he abandoned the talks and claimed that he had grown tired of the insincerity of the communist rebels, who repeatedly attacked security forces while their leaders overseas, particularly Sison in the Netherlands, attempted to prolong negotiations.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines said the NDFP was insincere in its declared desire for peace and only wanted to reinforce weakened forces as they sought funding from international communist organizations.
To stop the financial support from abroad, the Anti-Terrorism Council, created by the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, declared the CPP and the NPA as terrorist organizations, allowing the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to scrutinize and freeze the groups’ discovered monies.
The AMLC is also allowed by Republic Act No. 9160, or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, to scrutinize the accounts of groups or individuals linked to the CPP-NPA, broadening the government’s reach in cutting financial support to leftist organizations.
—With reports from Jerome Aning and Tina G. Santos
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