Abella: NPAs should show sincerity to peace talks

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Depending on what his Cabinet secretaries and advisers would say, President Rodrigo Duterte may reconsider his decision to end the peace talks.

Although there is no formal statement from Duterte yet, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on Saturday Duterte is "a listening president."

"He will continue to consider the advice of his Secretaries and peace advisers," Abella said in an interview with Radyo ng Bayan.

 

Abella added the New People's Army (NPA) should show their sincerity to the peace talks after he criticized the disconnect between the NPA and the National Democratic Front-Philippines (NDFP).

The NPA is the armed wing while the NDFP is the negotiating panel of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

In a February 4 statement, Abella said it would be "deeply regrettable" to set aside the progress made during the third round of peace talks concluded in late January in Rome.

"Kailangan po ng confidence building measures, ang ... NPA, para po naman makita na talagang sinsero din sila kung talagang interesado sila na magpatuloy po yung peace talks," Abella said Saturday morning.

[Translation: The NPA must exhibit confidence building measures to show their sincerity to continue with the peace talks.]

But NPA spokesperson Ka Oris denied the alleged faction within the revolutionary movement, saying the NPA is "solidly behind" the NDFP representatives.

"While the whole revolutionary movement relies on armed struggle as the principal form of struggle that will ensure the people's liberation from imperialist and feudal oppression, we are always open to explore whatever avenues the situation may open to achieve comprehensive reform," Ka Oris said in a statement released February 9.

The government declared an all-out war against the NPA after Duterte classified them as a terrorist group on February 5 due to NPA's move to kill soldiers even before the unilateral ceasefire was lifted on Friday.

 

As of February 10, eight people have been killed because of the armed conflict, including five soldiers, two rebels and a civilian.

Read: 8 killed in armed conflict: CPP wants talks, says defeating NPA a 'Duterte pipedream'

"Contrary to the hopes of the people, however, (Duterte) displayed intransigence and arbitrarily cancelled all peace negotiations, playing to the AFP line of an "all-out war" against the CPP and NPA," Ka Oris said in a statement Saturday.

The NPA spokesperson said the release of political prisoners, among others, could have stopped the left's termination of the ceasefire.

But the left said it is still open to peace talks while fighting as CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison urged the president to continue the peace talks.

NPA on Philex truck burning

Meanwhile, the Benguet Police Provincial Office is already in custody of suspected NPA members behind the burning of Philex Mining trucks on February 9, the Philippine National Police said Saturday in a statement.

The local police filed cases of arson, robbery and illegal possession of ammunition against Sarah Abellon, Promencio Cortex and Marciano Sagun.

According to mass organization Anakbayan Cordillera, Abellon was arrested without warrant on February 9.

Abellon, a board member of nongovernment and grassroots community organization Regional Development Center-Katinnulong Dagiti Umili ti Amianan, was believed to be the secretary of the Sub-Regional Military Area Command and in-charge with extortion activities of the NPA.

Cortez, on the other hand, has a P4.8 million bounty on his head as a high-ranking official of the leftist group.

AFP to NPA: Do not disrupt relief ops

The Armed Forces of the Philippines asked the NPA Saturday to refrain from attacking soldiers who are part of the military's rescue and rehabilitation activities.

This is following the 6.7 magnitude earthquake that devastated Surigao City.

As of posting, six are confirmed dead while more than a hundred are injured due to the earthquake.