Philippines gov't now targets peace with communist rebels

Presidential adviser calls for rebels to come to the negotiating table 'to find common solutions to our problems in peaceful dialogue.'

Philippines gov't now targets peace with communist rebels

World Bulletin/News Desk

The Philippines presidential adviser has asked a communist rebel group to sign up to a much publicized peace process - the latest efforts to end an insurgency which has rocked the country's south for more than 40 years.  

Secretary Teresita Deles, President Benigno Aquino's adviser on the government's peace process, on Wednesday called for the rebels to come to the negotiating table "to find common solutions to our problems in peaceful dialogue as Filipinos first and foremost."

The invitation came after guerrillas from the New People's Army released Tuesday afternoon four policemen seized during a July 10 attack on a police station on southern Mindanao island. The NPA had announced the move as a goodwill gesture to promote peace negotiations. 

Two other policemen were killed and three others wounded in the attack.

In a press statement emailed to the Anadolu Agency, Deles said that the abducted officers were picked up from a mountainous village in neighboring Agusan del Norte province by leaders from different religions who had served as third-party negotiators.

She said the release had followed 12 days of intense negotiations initiated by Jorge Madlos, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front (NDF) - an umbrella organization of the country's leftist groups - and “marked by [the] goodwill and a spirit of compromise between the government and the NDF.”

She revealed that the Philippine military and the NPA had agreed to separately issue a Suspension of Military Offensives to their forces for a period of five days starting at noon July 27 and ending at noon August 1. 

"We are grateful to all the local leaders and sectors without whose goodwill and cooperation the success of this important undertaking would not have been possible," Deles added. 

"The outburst of intense relief and joy at the reunion of the freed young officers with their families, all with very young children, was the immediate and heartfelt reward for everyone's efforts.”

Reiterating the government’s openness and serious intent to pursue peace negotiations with the communist organizations, she stressed, “We believe that our people deserve nothing less from the two parties than that they resume peace talks which can offer a clear roadmap to a just and doable political settlement."

Since March 1969, the NPA - the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines - has been waging one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies, which - according to the military - has claimed more than 3,000 lives in the last eight years alone.

After some 10 years of relative silence, the communist group resurfaced mid-2000 staging deadly ambushes against army soldiers and policemen, and resuming a fund-raising campaign by collecting "revolutionary tax" on businessmen and politicians.

In March, the government and former rebel outfit the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a peace deal that brought to a close 17-years of negotiations and ended a decades-old armed conflict in the southern area of Mindanao while granting Muslim areas greater political autonomy.

 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Temmuz 2014, 17:00

Muhammed Öylek

YORUM EKLE