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Chief gov’t peace negotiator urges Reds to stop attacks

Labor Secretary and Chief Peace Negotiator Silvestre Bello III. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./Presidential Photo

Labor Secretary and Chief Peace Negotiator Silvestre Bello III. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./Presidential Photo

The head of the government peace panel on Thursday urged the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to recall its “senseless order” to the New People’s Army (NPA) to intensify attacks in the wake of President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

The Philippine National Police also urged the NPA, the armed wing of the CPP, not to step up its attacks on government forces.

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The government chief negotiator, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, said the communists made a “false reading” of President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

“Lest it be construed as abetting the criminal and terror acts of the Maute group and a gang of Moro bandits, we put the CPP to task to correct its error and recall its senseless order,” Bello said.

“At the very least, it was an insult to the candor and genuineness displayed by the President and the [government] panel in talking peace. Worse, it betrays the absence of sincerity of the CPP in the negotiating table,” he added.

Public knowledge

Bello said the “circumstances that precipitated and the condition that warranted” the martial law declaration were matters of public knowledge.

He added that there is a need to restore law and order, preserve property and protect the lives of civilians.

“The President, in no uncertain terms, categorically declared he was not after the New People’s Army. He, in fact, reiterated his keenness on pursuing peace,” Bello said.

“We therefore find the CPP directive to the NPA to intensify attacks as totally misplaced, born out of a grossly distorted appreciation of the President’s intention,” he said.

The CPP earlier denounced the Duterte administration for imposing martial law on Mindanao and “subjecting the Filipino people to military rule.”

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“By declaring martial law in Mindanao, Duterte has gone beyond the threats and theatrics of the past months. The civil-democratic rights of the people across Mindanao are being curtailed as they are subjected to checkpoints, warrantless arrests, curfews and other restrictions,” it said.

NPA offensives

“The party calls on the entire Filipino people to fight the imposition of martial law on Mindanao and demand its immediate lifting,” it said.

The CPP said the NPA must be ready to accelerate the recruitment of new fighters as Mr. Duterte’s martial law “convinces more and more people to take up arms against the rotten system.”

The CPP called on the NPA to plan and carry out more tactical offensives “across Mindanao and the entire archipelago.”

“As proven under Marcos, waging revolutionary armed resistance is the most effective way of resisting martial law, defending the people’s democratic rights and inspiring them to wage ever greater struggles,” the CPP said.

The PNP spokesperson, Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos, urged the insurgents not to worsen the security situation in the country as the military and police battled with extremists in Marawi City.

“As Filipinos, let us not aggravate the situation in Marawi. Let’s help our country. NPAs are also Filipinos and we want what’s best for our countrymen. I hope we are together in that,” Carlos said in a press briefing.

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TAGS: abu sayyaf, communist rebels, CPP, Marawi siege, Maute group, Mindanao martial law, New People's Army, NPA, Philippine National Police, Philippine peace talks, PNP, Rodrigo Duterte, Silvestre Bello III
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