AFP: Local peace talks will render NDFP leadership irrelevant

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Highlights

  • AFP: NDFP leadership out of touch with troops
  • AFP takes jab at Sison, but invites him to return and join talks
  • AFP insists on credibility of ouster plot
  • EO to determine guidelines of local talks; CPP says it won't participate
  • AFP, CPP point fingers regarding insincerity in talks

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 16) — There's no need for leaders of the National Democratic Front of the  Philippines (NDFP) to join localized peace talks, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Monday.

At least, that's what AFP spokesperson Edgard Arevalo said about the NDFP leaders "who are living abroad."

"If we [localize], they will be doomed to the dustbin of history. They will no longer be necessary. At hindi naman talaga sila (And they really aren't) necessary," Arevalo told CNN Philippines' The Source.

"It will definitely render them irrelevant," he added.

Arevalo may have been pertaining to Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison, who is self-exiled in the Netherlands.

Earlier this month, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque also dismissed Sison as "irrelevant," as the Palace is pushing for localized peace talks.

The CPP has rejected the idea, but the administration is looking to finalize guidelines for such talks via an executive order. Arevalo said localized peace talks have been already in the works and proving to be successful.

The AFP said it would prefer to leave Sison out of peace talks, but they also invited the CPP founder to return to the country.

"If I may give unsolicited advice, if he is a consultant or adviser, there's no preventing us from changing our adviser or consultant if the advice he gives is no longer responsive to the needs of the time," said Arevalo.

He later added, "And then, if he truly loves the Filipinos whose interest he says he is trying to protect, then he must read the signs on the wall that say it's time to go local... then come home to the Philippines."

 

Although Sison has assumed the role of consultant, he is still considered an important figure for the Reds, said NDFP peace consultant, Rey Casambre, in an interview with The Source last week.

But Arevalo said the communist leadership is out of touch with what happens on the ground, according to supposed surrenderees.

"Sinasabi nila ang kanilang mga problema. Pagod na silang pagtatago, matagal na paghahabol... paglaban, namamatay, nasusugatan, pamilya nila na hindi nila nakikita," said Arevalo. "Those are realities na hindi po nakikita ng leadership ng NDFP na matagal na pong nabubuhay ng masarap sa Europa."

(Translation: They tell us their problems. They are tired of hiding, chasing... fighting, dying, getting injured, not seeing their family. Those are realities that the NDFP leaders in Europe have overlooked.)

Casambre reiterated that while the leaders in the Philippines listened to Sison, they are still the ones who make the decisions.

He also maintained negotiations abroad with a third party were necessary.

"You cannot solve problems national in scope [through local negotiations]," said Casambre. "What we have been having for the longest time are local consultations... But peace negotiations on the local level will not work."

The AFP also insisted that the military has strong evidence proof of an ouster plot against Duterte, even if this was denied by the Left. Arevalo said they found out about it through recovered documents and testimonies of supposed surrenderees.

The military is confident it can easily thwart any plan to unseat the President, but it is concerned about its implications on the peace talks, Arevalo said.

"It's not [an issue of] whether or not they are capable of doing it... It's an issue of sincerity," said Arevalo. "If you're talking peace with the right hand and you're hiding a knife ready to stab with the left hand, then that's not going to work for peace."

The government has maintained the Left was not sincere with talks because the latter continued regrouping and recruiting troops while negotiations were ongoing.

However, the Left has also said the same about the government due to its peace talks suspensions and reported military abuse against Lumad communities. In a recent fact-finding mission, the Center for Women's Resources documented 69 cases based on 22 incident reports of military members harassing women in Mindanao, which is under martial rule until the end of the year.

Watch the full episode of The Source here.