LUCENA CITY — Exiled members of the Communist Party of the Philippines just laughed off President Rodrigo Duterte’s “double-faced” tag for communist rebels, according to CPP founder Jose Maria Sison.
“We in the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) always laugh when the [government] or [progovernment] journalists accuse the NDFP of being insincere for refusing to surrender under the guise of a protracted and indefinite ceasefire that practically kills in advance substantive negotiations,” Sison said in an online interview from Utrecht, The Netherlands, on Saturday night.
“You never consider the other side stupid enough to retreat from a just and reasonable position just by calling it ‘insincere’ or ‘double-faced,’” he said.
On Saturday, President Duterte scoffed at the communist rebels for continuing to attack government forces despite efforts at encouraging peace talks.
“We can talk, but don’t [be double-faced],” Mr. Duterte said in a speech during the 50th founding anniversary of Davao del Norte directed to the communist insurgents.
The President said the rebels must stop fighting the government if peace talks must be held. He said he was ready to declare a “total ceasefire” if the rebels were ready to reciprocate.
The fifth round of peace talks between the government and the NDFP, scheduled for May 27 to June 2, was suspended after the New People’s Army (NPA) attacked government troops following Mr. Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao to crush Islamic State-inspired terrorists who seized Marawi City on May 23.
Since then, the NPA and state security forces have engaged in clashes.
Sison, the NDFP’s chief political consultant, said the rebels’ stand on the issue of bilateral ceasefire was well known.
“It should not be used to merely effect the surrender and pacification of the revolutionary forces and the people and to render useless the substantive negotiations on social, economic, political and constitutional reforms for a just and lasting peace,” he said.
Sign deals first
Sison said a bilateral truce would be easy after the peace negotiators had signed socioeconomic and political reform agreements.
The CPP defended NPA offensives against government forces. In a statement last week, the CPP pointed out that it had yet to see orders from President Duterte telling the military not to engage the NPA.
The CPP also reiterated that the NDFP had already recommended that the NPA refrain from carrying out offensives in Mindanao, but only if the military “will likewise refrain … from attacking the NPA and the people in the revolutionary base areas in Mindanao.”