Lorenzana sees no need for now to return to negotiating table with Reds

MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government is not keen to resume peace talks with communist rebels, unless the insurgents first renounce their armed struggle. 

This was Lorenzana’s reply when asked by reporters on Friday, December 28, if the government should return to the negotiating table with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA). (LOOK: The Communist Party of the Philippines at 50

Tignan natin (We’ll see), maybe later on, if we need to talk to them, we can go back to them anytime. [But for now], talking to them will be counterproductive,” said the Department of National Defense secretary.

Lorenzana added the CPP-NPA – which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year – will first “have to renounce their armed struggle.”

“Why do we still have to talk them?… They go to the negotiating table to pursue the armed struggle… We have documents [to prove it],” said Lorenzana. (READ: Military calls for vigilance as CPP celebrates 50th anniversary)

In 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte entrusted several positions in his Cabinet to leftists and freed detained high-ranking rebel leaders. But this year, the President cancelled the peace talks, declared the CPP a terrorist organization, kicked out the leftists in his Cabinet, and launched an all-out war against the rebels. (READ: The generals’ coup in 2018: Duterte breaks up with the Red)

On December 4, Duterte signed Executive Order No. 70, which institutionalized the “whole-of-nation” approach in ending the communist insurgency in the Philippines. The order called for peace talks to be localized, where negotiations are done between local governments and communists in their respective areas. 

A National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, led by Duterte and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr was created to seek the active involvement of local government units to craft livelihood and development projects in their areas even as they entice rebels to surrender. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.