MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III believes the arrest of two top leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) brings the government a step closer to crushing the communist insurgency.
His statement came on Monday, March 24, just two days after Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma Tiamzon – tagged by the government as the chairman of the CPP-New People’s Army (NPA), and CPP-NPA secretary-general, respectively – were arrested in Cebu. (READ: CPP chief, wife nabbed in Cebu – military)
“I believe it does deliver a serious blow,” Aquino told reporters in Malacañang after leading the oathtaking of business officials. “And it shows you also the competency of our security forces.”
But the President was also quick to say that in order end insurgencies, the government must address “the root causes of the problem.”
“That’s why we are focused on empowering our people especially in trying to move them out of poverty in the various interventions that we have been doing from education, to health, to livelihood, to housing, to disaster preparedness and so on and so forth,” he said.
Aquino also said he does not think the couple’s arrest will affect the peace talks, adding the CPP has walked out the peace talks with the government.
“Does it have an impact? I don’t think so. It really depends on their willingness to go back to the bargaining table,” Aquino said. He added that “the attacks [of the NPA] have not ceased.”
He also cited grenades and pistols reportedly in the Tiamzons’ possession when the two were arrested, “something which normally does not occupy the belongings of a peace negotiator.” The Tiamzons denied the allegation. (READ: Tiamzons leave ‘irregular’ inquest)
The CPP has slammed the government for offering a reward for the arrest of communist leaders even as it seeks peace negotiations with the rebel group.
Benito Tiamzon, as senior party leader, was known to have taken a hardline position on the peace process with the Aquino government. (READ: Benito Tiamzon: Writer, organizer, party man)
The military is now bracing for retaliatory attacks from communist rebels following their leaders’ arrest. – Rappler.com