Reds mull peace talks sans ceasefire amid heightened military ops

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Wilma Austria Tiamzon and NDFP peace panel member Benito Tiamzon share the updates on the ongoing peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP with members of Sandugo, an alliance of national minorities, Oct. 26 at the University of the Philippines Diliman. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea/ Bulatlat)
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Wilma Austria Tiamzon and NDFP peace panel member Benito Tiamzon share the updates on the ongoing peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP with members of Sandugo, an alliance of national minorities, Oct. 26 at the University of the Philippines Diliman. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea/ Bulatlat)

“If the AFP continues to violate the ceasefire, it will not be long and it is highly probable that the NPA would retract its unilateral ceasefire.”

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Amid mounting reports of violations to the unilateral ceasefire by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is considering peace talks without ceasefire.

Speaking before members of Sandugo, an alliance of national minorities, at the University of the Philippines Diliman, Oct. 26, NDFP peace panel member Benito Tiamzon said the AFP is “exploiting the ongoing ceasefire to crush the revolutionary bases of the New People’s Army (NPA).”

Benito said the NDFP received documented reports of “aggressive military operations in the guise of peace and development operations.” These included psywar, intelligence, civil-military and combat operations in several areas. Majority of the violations, he said, came from the regions in Mindanao.

“If the situation gets worse, it would be better to pursue the talks without ceasefire. In the past, the peace talks continued even without a ceasefire,” Benito said. “If the AFP continues to violate the ceasefire, it will not be long and it is highly probable that the NPA would retract its unilateral ceasefire.”

Benito said the AFP’s ceasefire violations are contrary to the spirit of unilateral ceasefire, which aims to foster trust between the two parties and create favorable atmosphere for the advancement of peace talks.

Benito said the call of national minorities to junk the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan is just. He blamed the Oplan Bayanihan for the militarization and widespread terror in Lumad communities.

Benito added that the Duterte administration has yet to fulfill its commitment to release all political prisoners through amnesty. He said that President Rodrigo Duterte himself promised to release all political prisoners several times already.

During the first and second round of formal talks held in Oslo, Norway, the GRP panel expressed its strong commitment to release all political prisoners.

The GRP panel has pledged to facilitate the first wave of releases of political prisoners this Oct. 27, according to NDFP consultant Wilma Austria Tiamzon.

Wilma said the GRP panel said the series of releases of political prisoners would be done until December this year.

Benito said the filing of common crimes against activists is prohibited by the Hernandez political doctrine and violates the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

Benito said that in lieu of rebellion, common crimes, which are based on lies and planted evidence, are filed against activists.

There are more than 400 political prisoners languishing in different jails.

For the Filipino people

Benito said the NDFP participates in the peace talks to address the root causes of the armed conflict.

The peace talks, he said, is one of the opportunities and avenues to push for socioeconomic and political reforms that would benefit the Filipino people. He added that the NDFP would not allow the other side to dilute the basic socioeconomic reforms needed by the majority of the Filipino people. including the national minorities.

Benito urged the national minorities to strengthen their struggle. “The peace talks is important but the struggle that you advance outside the peace talks is even more important.” ()

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