Under Bongbong Marcos, peace talks with Reds 'dim'– US non-profit | Inquirer News

Under Bongbong Marcos, peace talks with Reds ‘dim’– US non-profit

/ 06:19 PM July 18, 2023

The prospects of resuming the peace negotiations with the communist rebels are bleak under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., a US-based conflict monitoring non-profit said.

GETTING HEADS TOGETHER. In this 2017 file photo, GRP and NDF panel members confer on the final form of a ceasefire agreement to end Asia’s longest running insurgency. The two parties are also expected to seal a pact on social and economic reforms. (Raul M. Francia, Radisson Blu Palace, Noordwijk, The Netherlands) / File photo

KORONADAL CITY – The prospects of resuming the peace negotiations with the communist rebels are bleak under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., a US-based conflict monitoring non-profit said.

In a report titled “The Communist Insurgency in the Philippines: A ‘Protracted People’s War’ Continues” released on July 13, the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), a non-profit based in Wisconsin, noted that formal peace talks with the communists under the new Marcos regime were “unlikely to be revived.”


“This would make Marcos, Jr. the first Philippine president after the fall of his father’s dictatorship (in 1986) not to seek peace negotiations with the (communist rebels),” the ACLED report written by Tomas Buenaventura said.


ACLED, which operates as a non-profit since 2014, has been engaged in disaggregated data collection, analysis and crisis mapping involving conflicts across the globe.

Marcos Jr.’s immediate predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte, terminated the peace talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), its armed wing the New People’s Army and its broad united front alliance the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in November 2017.

The Duterte administration proclaimed the CPP-NPA-NDF as a terrorist group but a Manila court dismissed the petition to declare the rebel group as terrorist in September 2022.

In December 2018, Duterte established the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac), a whole-of-nation strategy to defeat the communist insurgency.

ACLED noted that Marcos Jr. appeared keen in pursuing the NTF-Elcac’s favored style of “localized peace talks,” where the government would pressure individuals identified as communist rebels in local areas to surrender, rather than negotiate with the rebel group’s highly centralized leadership.

The government had described the NTF-Elcac’s localized talks as “effective,” saying that this approach had convinced rebels to surrender and avail themselves of government assistance, the ACLED report observed.


For its part, the CPP has repeatedly rejected the localized peace talks, calling it “a smokescreen for psychological warfare, pacification, and suppression operations” and does not address the “long-standing problems of landlessness, oppression, and exploitation.”

The last substantial agreement signed between the Philippine government and the communist guerrillas dates back to 1998 and was the first item in the Hague Joint Declaration agenda: the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The CPP insists that the next step in the peace process should be to negotiate the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms, followed by the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms, and finally the Comprehensive Agreement for the End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces.

National Security Adviser Eduardo Año said that Marcos’ marching order was for the NTF-Elcac to sustain the whole-of-nation approach to peace and development to prevent the communist “terrorists,” their front organizations, and other lawless elements from recruiting, regrouping and regaining power.

“He also directed the task force and the local government units to continue working together to seize the gains in the regions and ensure that we carry this momentum towards total victory over communist terrorism under his administration,” Año said in a report from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity.

NPAs most active in Negros Occidental, Bukidnon

But ACLED noted that from June 30, 2016 to June 30, 2023, the NPA rebels were most active in Negros Occidental province in Western Visayas and Bukidnon province in Northern Mindanao. It noted at least 63 clashes between the NPA and the military recorded during the period.

“This does not come as a surprise for a revolution with an agrarian base,” the report said. “Western Visayas and Northern Mindanao are both known for agrarian unrest, being two of the country’s most important agricultural centers, and therefore serve as ideal staging grounds for the CPP’s revolution,” it added.

Despite the higher levels of fighting between the NPA and state forces in Western Visayas and Northern Mindanao, fighting between both sides was seen in practically all parts of the country from the start of the Duterte regime and into the Marcos, Jr. regime, ACLED said.

This means that the NPA has been present in every region, mirroring the prevalence of agrarian issues across the country and widespread poverty of agricultural workers, it added.

Despite the NPA rebels’ expansive reach, the military and the communists publicly disagree on the strength of the NPA.

In its latest anniversary statement in December 2022, the CPP claimed that the NPA had established 110 fronts across the country, while the party itself had set up committees of leadership and branches in more than 70 out of 82 provinces.

The military, meanwhile, claimed that the number of NPA fronts is down to 22 as of December 2022.

In May this year, Año said that of these 22 fronts, the number of “active” guerrilla fronts had gone down to two, while 20 had been “weakened.”


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Church leaders to Bongbong Marcos: Resume gov’t-NDFP peace talks

TAGS: Bongbong Marcos, communists, NPA, Peace Talks

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