Aquino government to adopt new approach in talks with communists
The peace talks between the government and communists remain at a standstill

MANILA, Philippines – The peace talks between the government and communists remain at a standstill.

The Aquino government rejected the conditions set by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDF) before resuming the stalled negotiations. It also said it is abandoning the special track for the peace negotiations until the communist rebels change their minds.

“They kept changing the conditions for the special track and that was not acceptable to us,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview, clarifying that it is not the ambush of Gingoog Mayor Ruthie Mayor Guingona that stalled the talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF.

Valte said that it is now up to the communist group if it wants the talks to proceed but stressed that the Aquino government will not accept pre-conditions for the resumption of the negotiations.

“We don’t know if they are ready or if they want to talk to us. On our part, the government is always (open),” Valte said, echoing the position of the government’s chief negotiator with the communists.

“We have always been open to resume formal negotiations with them, but they keep on insisting on preconditions, such as the release of their detained consultants. Discussions under the Special Track (ST) have also been closed since they have come up with new demands,” government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla said on Friday, April 26.

According to Padilla, the communist group also demanded that the Aquino government should abolish the poverty alleviation program conditional cash transfer (CCT), the development program in conflict-affected areas PAMANA, and the anti-insurgency plan Oplan Bayanihan.

“These demands are just preposterous. We don’t want to engage in a negotiation where the other party is clearly fooling us,” Padilla said.

New approach

Padilla noted that the government did not want to adopt the regular track of formal talks with the communist group because it had not succeeded for the last 27 years.

The Aquino administration considered a “new approach” to resolve the armed conflict with the communist rebels in light of the the 22-month stalemate in the talks and the continuing NPA attacks.

“We cannot wait forever for the other side if they continually refuse to go back to the negotiating table without preconditions,” he said.

“The government will be taking a new approach to pursue peace,” Padilla added.

Padilla called on the NPA to end violence on the ground following its series of attacks, including the recent ambush on Guingona that killed the mayor’s driver and bodyguard and injured 2 others. The communist rebels apologized and took responsibility for the attack.

“If the NPA understands the true meaning of taking responsibility, it should stop inflicting violence on our society,” according to Padilla.

“If its apology (to the Guingonas) means anything at all, it should cease and desist from further disrupting the life of the nation with impunity. It should realize that it cannot reform society by destroying its essence. They must put down their guns and pursue their desired reforms in peaceful, sincere and constructive dialogue and culturally acceptable ways,” Padilla added.

The NDF earlier rebuffed the Aquino government in a statement, saying that it is “engaging in the cheapest form of anti-NPA propaganda in the vain effort to justify its failure to seriously engage the revolutionary forces in peace negotiations and cover up its failure to address the socio-economic problems of the people that are at the root of the raging armed conflict in the Philippines.” –

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