Lorenzana takes firm stand vs peace talks with Reds
MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana took a firm position against the resumption of peace talks with communist rebels despite calls coming from dozens of lawmakers.
"[President Rodrigo Duterte] knows my stand. If he asks me what my recommendation is, I would say, 'No, sir, I would not recommend resuming the peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF,'" Lorenzana said on Tuesday, April 3.
"I have been very vocal against any more talks with these terrorists. Nothing good will ever come of it unless we agree to all their unreasonable demands," said Lorenzana. (READ: PH seeks terrorist tag for Joma Sison, 648 others)
The defense chief said the President had not issued any directives in response to a resolution signed by 60 lawmakers supporting the resumption of talks.
Attacks by alleged New People's Army (NPA) fighters in Davao City during the Holy Week triggered another word war between Lorenzana and exiled Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison.
Bulldozers and backhoes reportedly worth P65 million were burned, stalling a P1.3-billion bypass road project in Duterte's hometown.
The military slammed the attack. "Such atrocities against the people and terroristic activities against communities only show their true color and reinforce their terror tag," the military said in a statement.
Lorenzana accused the National Democratic Front (NDF) – the group representing communist rebels in the negotiating table – of insincerity.
"There is reason for their unreasonable demands and conditions. An example is CASER [Comprehensive Agreement for Socio-economic Reforms]. So they can break off easily – anytime – if we do not agree to any part of it. And then they blame the government for being anti-something or whatever," said Lorenzana.
Sison fired back at Lorenzana, accusing him and the military of sabotaging gains in the peace talks.
Sison warned again of intensified attacks, something Lorenzana had repeatedly dismissed.
"The reactionaries seem not to realize that they are the ones prodding and pushing the NDF away from the peace negotiations and challenging the revolutionary forces and people to intensify the armed revolution in order to further strengthen themselves and seek further advances towards total victory in the people's democratic revolution," said Sison in a statement on Tuesday.
NDF chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said the government is also guilty of violations of agreements with the communist rebels.
"What about the continuing killings of NPA fighters, even those unarmed and undergoing medical treatment like Ka Benoy and his companion, and the continuing arrests, detention, threats, and harrasment of open legal activists and even United Nations rapporteurs, and the terror attacks against communities, occupation of schools and public places," Agcaoili said.
Agcaoili said the government should have used proper mechanisms to protests alleged NPA attacks like the one in Davao City.
"There is a mechanism for addressing the occurence of such incidents – the Joint Monitoring Committee under the CAHRIHL. The GRP should bring their alleged complaints there, just as the NDF does, instead of making the need to resume the peace negotiations as the scapegoat," said Agcaoili. – Rappler.com