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NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – The spokesman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in Western Visayas lashed out at the Marcos Jr. administration for agreeing to return to the negotiating table with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), calling the move “the most foolish decision” it has made so far.
Iloilo Associate Provincial Prosecutor Flosemer Chris Gonzales, the spokesman of the task force in Region VI, expressed his dismay at the joint decision of the national government to offer peace negotiations with the NDFP, the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
“Kung kelan dapang dapa na ang kalaban, saka pa talaga nakipag negosasyon ang gobyerno,” Gonzales told Rappler on Wednesday, November 29.
(Just when the enemy is already on the verge of collapse, it’s when the government starts to offer to negotiate.)
The Anti-Terror Council (ATC) earlier designated the NDFP as a terrorist organization, alongside the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).
Gonzales called the resumption of the peace talks “an act of betrayal of the public trust.”
He described it as “a betrayal of the sacrifices of our colleagues in the government service who laid down their lives in the fight against the communist terrorist groups, and a betrayal of the memory of the numerous innocent lives who were killed by the CPP-NDF-NPA in the course of their campaign of terror against our people.”
Gonzales added, “Whoever came up with this idea of opening up peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF has a serious problem with understanding the basic fact that nothing, practically nothing, good has come out of peace talks with them.”
He called on the Marcos Jr. administration to instead focus on existing localized peace engagements under the local peace engagement clusters.
The pronouncement of Gonzales came a day after the government and the NDFP agreed to revive peace talks, which the government terminated in 2017 during the administration of then-president Rodrigo Duterte.
The Joint Oslo Communiqué was signed by government representatives, including Special Assistant to the President Secretary Antonio Ernesto Lagdameo Jr. and Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Carlito Galvez Jr., following backdoor discussions in The Netherlands and Norway, facilitated by the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG), since 2022.
The agreement recognizes the country’s significant challenges in areas like the economy and environment, as well as external threats. It also emphasized the importance of working together to address these issues and resolve the root causes of armed conflict.
Various religious and civil society groups, including peace advocates, hailed the joint decision of the Marcos Jr. administration and the NDFP to return to the negotiating table.
In Western Visayas, the group Human Rights Advocates-Negros (HRAN) welcomed the resumption of the peace talks, saying the development reverses the militarist stance of the Durterte administration. – Rappler.com