Armed Forces of the Philippines launches new attacks against New People’s Army despite looming peace talks

Filipino troops, rebels clash ahead of peace talks

Philippine troops killed a communist guerrilla and captured a rebel encampment in offensives launched despite a planned resumption of talks aimed at ending the 41-year Maoist rebellion, officials said Sunday.

Philippine officials and the rebels announced Friday they will hold preliminary talks in January to discuss a planned resumption of peace talks in late February in Norway, which has brokered past negotiations. The talks stalled in 2004. The two sides also agreed to observe a cease-fire from Dec. 16 to Jan. 3 during the Christmas and New Year holiday.

Despite the looming talks, army troops attacked about 20 New People’s Army guerrillas near a farming village in Pontevera town in central Capiz province late Saturday, killing a rebel and seizing two rifles. A soldier was wounded in the clash, army chief Lt. Gen. Arturo Ortiz said. The other guerrillas withdrew and were being pursued by troops, he said.

Army scout rangers separately seized a rebel encampment Friday in Northern Samar province, also in the central Philippines, but guerrillas abandoned the area before they arrived, regional military spokesman Lt. Col. Noel Vestuir said. Continue reading

Philippines: Luis Jalandoni and Consuela Ledesma of the National Democratic Front arrive in Manila

MANILA – A day after the government and the Communist group announced an 18-day holiday ceasefire,  Luis Jalandoni, the chief peace negotiator of the National Democratic Front (NDF), arrived in Manila on Saturday. He and his wife, Ma. Consuela Ledesma, arrived at the NAIA airport in Manila on board a Cathay Pacific Flight from Hong Kong. “We are happy to be back,” Jalandoni said as he and his wife faced the media at the airport. An official of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process met the couple at the airport. Human rights lawyers were also present.

Jalandoni has been in years of self-exile with communist leader Jose Maria Sison and other members of the NDF in the Netherlands. He did not say how long he will be staying in the Philippines but clarified that he is in town to attend a family reunion.

The hold-departure order issued against Jalandoni has been lifted, according to Undersecretary Alexander Padilla, chief of the government’s negotiating panel to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF). Padilla added that he had also assured the NDF leadership that the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), which allows members of the negotiating panel such as Jalandoni to safely enter and leave the Philippines, is in effect.

The 18-day ceasefire, which will be observed from December 16 to January 3, was agreed during a previous 2-day meeting in Hong Kong. This is the longest ceasefire agreed between the two parties in the last 10 years and the first after both sides suspended peace talks in 2004.

Largely considered as part of the “goodwill and confidence-building measures,” the ceasefire aims to set the tone for the resumption of the formal peace talks on February 19 to 25, 2011 in Oslo, Norway. Preliminary talks have been tentatively set on January 14 to 18, 2011 also in Oslo. Continue reading

Philippines: Government and National Democratic Front agree to reopen peace talks in February, set 16 day cease fire

Straits Times, December 3, 2010

Philippines, Maoists to resume talks

MANILA – The Philippines and Maoist rebels have agreed to resume peace talks early next year, officials said on Friday, the first breakthrough in tackling either of two long-running insurgencies since the new government came to office this year.

After two days of informal talks in Hong Kong on Wednesday and Thursday, the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) also agreed on a 19-day Christmas ceasefire starting December 16, which if it holds would be the longest in 10 years.

Right: Relatives and friends hold photos of loved ones among the 43 men and women arrested earlier in the year as suspected communist rebels during a rally in front of the Department of Justice in Manila.

There have been on-off talks since 1986 to end an insurgency that began in the 1960s and has killed 20,000 people and scared off potential investors in resource-rich rural communities.

Alexander Padilla, the government’s chief peace negotiator, told reporters the two sides would have another informal meeting next month ahead of the resumption of formal talks in Oslo, Norway in February. ‘This would again be the first of such talks after having been suspended last August 2005,’ he said, adding the government is committed to a ‘just and honourable settlement of conflicts’.

In a statement, NDF chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni reiterated the Maoists’ call for the release of 43 health workers detained on suspicion of being rebels and three rebel leaders who it says are part of the negotiations.

 

National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Mindanao: Remove all impediments to a just peace!

An impediment to a just peace: The Philippine government has armed warlords to protect foreign monopoly businesses and the ruling class, as well as to suppress the people's opposition. These warlords have been pampered by the government to such an extent that they kill with impunity, as did the Ampatuan warlords in the brutal massacre of 58 civilians, including lawyers and journalists, on 23 November 2009 in Mindanao (above).

From http://www.philippinerevolution.net

Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos, Spokesperson, National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Mindanao

November 28, 2010

“This vicious systemic exploitation and oppression, which has compelled the Filipino people to rise in revolution, is the root of un-peace. Therefore, true sovereignty from imperialist domination and the attainment of social justice are pre-requisites for a just and lasting peace for the whole country.”

The NDFP-Mindanao is one with all peace advocates and peace-loving Filipino people in the pursuit of a just and lasting peace. We are aware of the call for peace of advocates through the Mindanao Week of Peace. It is, however, imperative to thoroughly understand the nature and context of the social conflict that breed un-peace.

Almost four centuries of Spanish rule and six decades of US tutelage fettered the Philippines to feudal and semi-feudal exploitation. Filipino peasants have been deprived of land; workers, reduced to cheap labour force; and our natural resources and environment, plundered and ravaged. The country became a dumping market for overpriced goods, and a forward base for imperialist hegemony in the Asia-Pacific.

Since the bogus independence of 1946, puppet governments were beholden to US imperialist economic and political interests. Particularly in Mindanao, the Moro warlord ruling elite connived with US imperialists to grab and turn their ancestral lands into export crop production at the expense of both the Moro and non-Moro peasants. Continue reading

Philippine government negotiator and Luis Jalandoni of the NDF meet in Hong Kong to reopen peace talks

BBC News Asia-Pacific, 2 December 2010

Peace talks have been suspended since 2004

Representatives of the Philippines government and of the country’s Communist Party are meeting in Hong Kong to find a way to reopen peace talks.

The government’s chief negotiator Alexander Padilla is meeting with Luis Jalandoni of the National Democratic Front, or NDF. The NDF is an umbrella group of leftist organisations including the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The party, founded in 1968, still poses a threat in parts of the country.

Some of its former leaders hold seats in the Senate and Congress while others, such as Mr Jalandoni, face arrest warrants in the Philippines.

The talks are being held in Hong Kong to assuage his fears of arrest if he returned to the Philippines. He lives in exile in the Netherlands as does the head of the CPP, Jose Maria Sison.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino set up a panel in October to seek a way to re-open peace talks. “It’s the very first step to lay the good foundation for the talk. They (government negotiators) know that they have my entire support behind them. So I would not pressure them to coming up with results just for a good soundbite. We really want to achieve the lasting solutions towards this longest-running insurgency,” he said. Continue reading

Peace talks in the Philippines slated to begin soon

Below are 3 articles from the press in the Philippines on plans to start formal peace talks in early 2011 in Norway between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), which includes the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.

Interview with Jose Maria Sison on GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations

Philippine Daily Inquirer, October 25, 2010

1. How do you see Alex Padilla and his team? Are they acceptable to the NDFP panel?

JMS: PNoy [President Benigno Aquino] has made an excellent choice of Alex Padilla as the chair of the GRP Negotiating Panel. Alex has an understanding of the Filipino people’s struggle for national independence and democracy. He was a human rights lawyer and was once with Bayan. I also know Pablito Sanidad personally. He is also an excellent choice by PNoy. He is known as a man of integrity, a human rights lawyer, a patriot and progressive. I do not know the three other GRP panelists personally.

PNoy as GRP principal has the prerogative of appointing his own panelists . His panel appears to be so composed as to encourage the belief that there will be serious peace negotiations towards mutually satisfactory agreements. Through NDFP negotiating panel chairperson Luis Jalandoni, the NDFP has already publicly welcomed and accepted the new GRP panel.

2. What should be a good starting point for the renewal of the talks?

JMS: The chairmen of the GRP and NDFP Negotiating Panels should start immediately to communicate with each other. It is possible that by the time you go to press they shall have started to communicate and try to arrange preliminary talks between teams of the panels as soon as possible in Oslo. The preliminary talks are intended to pave the way for the resumption of formal talks in January or February. Continue reading

Philippines forms new panel for peace talks with communist rebels

Earth Times, October 21, 2010

Manila – The Philippine government on Thursday formed a new panel to negotiate with communist rebels in a bid to restart peace talks stalled for more than five years. The panel will be headed by Health Undersecretary Alex Padilla, a human rights lawyer who worked with various leftist organizations before joining the government. “His designation as panel chairperson is expected to advance the stalled peace negotiations and move the process” said Teresita Deles, presidential adviser on the peace process.

The other members of the negotiating team are to be fellow human rights lawyer Pablo Sanidad and peace campaigners Ednar Dayanhirang, Lourdes Tison and Jurgette Honculada. Peace talks between the government and Netherlands-based communist rebel leaders collapsed in August 2005 after the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its leaders were included in terrorist lists of the United States and other countries.

Deles said the new panel would start to review past agreements with the communist rebels and chart a strategy to end the more-than-40-year insurgency. “This shall be done in close consultation with various government agencies, civil society groups and local government units to ensure that the voice of the people is carried to the negotiating table,” she added.

The panel was announced as suspected communist rebels ambushed patrolling police officers in Prosperidad town in Agusan del Sur province, 870 kilometres south of Manila. Four police officers were wounded in the attack early Thursday and were being treated at a nearby hospital. Communist rebels have been fighting the government since the late 1960s, making the movement one of the longest-running leftist insurgencies in Asia.

Reuters: Philippine rebels ready to resume peace talks

Fidel Agcaoilo--NDF spokesman

[The Communist Party of the Philippines never provides the number of combatants in the NPA. The figure of 4,000 given below is an attempt to portray the NPA as a declining force in line with army psy-war operations.-ed]

MANILA, June 7 (Reuters) – Maoist-led Philippine guerrillas are ready to resume peace negotiations with the new government of Benigno Aquino III, who is set to be proclaimed president this week, a member of the rebel negotiating team said on Monday.

The 4,000-member New People’s Army (NPA), the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), has been fighting a guerrilla war for more than 40 years. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which has stunted growth and investment in resource-rich areas outside Manila.

The rebels’ negotiating arm, the National Democratic Front (NDF), abandoned talks with the government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo after Manila declined to free about a dozen rebel leaders who are to take part in peace talks hosted by Norway. Continue reading