Duterte told: All-out war doomed, return to negotiating table
The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) on Friday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to return to the negotiating table and resume peace talks, saying that the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) all-out war with communist rebels has failed and is doomed to fail again.
“Even now, we can say that the all-out war being waged by the AFP is doomed to fail like the other Oplans of past governments,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes said in a statement.
“On February 16, farmer activist Edwin Gatog from Compostela Valley was shot dead by unidentified men believed to be linked with the AFP. This is the latest documented human rights violation after the Duterte government unilaterally terminated peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP),” the group said.
President Duterte abruptly ended peace negotiations with the communists after the NDFP reportedly dragged its feet in signing a joint ceasefire while insisting that the government release all political prisoners. Also, the NPA has withdrawn its unilateral ceasefire while allegedly abducting and killing soldiers, even unarmed, off duty personnel.
In its statement, Bayan said several activists had been arrested over the past week, including NDFP consultant Ariel Arbitrario, who was arrested in Davao despite being protected under the JASIG.
Reyes cited that the militarist approach failed even at the height of the Marcos dictatorship – when the revolutionary movement was still in its early stages. He said that approach only fueled a more violent resistance and spread of the revolution.
The group said the people would surely resist the all-out war. Meanwhile, a broad array of personalities and groups – from lawmakers to church leaders, artists and civic leaders – have expressed support for the continuation of the peace talks, he said.
“It would be better if Duterte returns to the negotiating table and continue the scheduled talks that aim to address the root causes of the armed conflict. Serious peace negotiations on socio-economic, political and constitutional reforms have a better chance of ending the armed conflict than waging all-out war,” Reyes added.
Cabinet members are expected to meet with the President on February 20 to discuss the future of the peace talks. CBB/rga
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