‘Reds remind Leni, Isko, other Presidential bets to study roots of the local armed conflict’

BAGUIO CITY (October 17, 2021) –  The Communist Party of the Philippines is reminding Presidential bets, especially VP Leni Robredo and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno that “attaining a just and lasting peace requires a deeper understanding of the roots of the armed conflict, as well as the history and process of peace negotiations.”
This after Robredo, the Liberal Party’s presidential candidate, was reported to have said that she believes there is a need for “localized peace talks” as a way of addressing the “roots of the problem” which she identified as poverty and inequality.
A few days ago, Aksyon Demokratiko presidential bet Moreno was also quoted as having described members of the New People’s Army (NPA) as people “who may have lost their way” (“naligaw ng landas”) and must be convinced to “return to the fold” because “there is only one government.”
Both Robredo and Isko, the CPP said, “must go beyond the superficial and myopic view that the raging civil war across the country is a result merely of “local” conditions and not borne by systemic problems broadly affecting the masses of peasants, workers and middle classes–especially the absence of land reform and national industrialization, which past governments have refused to undertake as a program to attain social justice and economic self-reliance and progress.”
Marco Valbuena, spokesman of the CPP Central Committee also said, “other presidential candidates have yet to share their plans on how to carry forward peace negotiations with the revolutionary armed movement.”
Valbuena also reminded Robredo that President Duterte himself has been promoting “local peace negotiations.”
It has also long been promoted by Sara Duterte as Davao mayor where it has been proven a complete failure, he added.
Instead of promoting peace, “local peace negotiations” has been equated with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)’s “surrender drive” where local residents arbitrarily accused of being NPA members are forced to “pledge loyalty” to the AFP, the CPP spokesman said.
Localized peace talks,  the CPP spokesman added, “has been accompanied by widespread human rights violations where the peasant masses have been subjected to relentless surveillance and intelligence operations, intimidation, unlawful arrests based on trumped up charges and extrajudicial killings.
Martial law methods of rule prevail where the military dictate policies and programs in the name of counterinsurgency.”
As a former rights lawyer, Robredo must look into the rampant military and police abuses perpetrated under “local peace negotiations,” Valbuena urged.
According also to the CPP,  “local peace negotiations” has supposedly “served as veil to conceal widespread corruption involving hundreds of millions of pesos in funds for “livelihood” and “balik-baril” programs, where people called to gather to receive “subsidies” are made to sign blank papers, later used as evidence of their “surrender.”
Valbuena challenged, “are these candidates willing to reverese Duterte’s anti-peace talks policy by rescinding Proclmations 370 and 374, dismantling the National Task Force-ELCAC and doing away with the Anti-Terrorism Law (ATL) which are all giant barriers to the resumption of peace negotiations?”
The CPP also wished to remind Robredo, Moreno and other candidates that “these views on peace negotiations are known to have been promoted by the US and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in their zealous effort to impede peace negotiations.”
It is still to be seen whether the presidential candidates will firmly stand against the Duterte regime’s “kill, kill, kill” policy and make a stand that will reflect the aspirations of peace advocates and people who want peace negotiations to prosper beyond the ceremonies that come with every new regime,  Valbuena pointed out.
Artemio A. Dumlao