Reds to presidential bets: Study roots of armed conflict

Asia's Tech News Daily

© The STAR / KJ Rosales Reds to presidential bets: Study roots of armed conflict

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is reminding presidential aspirants to equip themselves with a “deeper understanding of the roots of the armed conflict” if they endeavor to attain a just and lasting peace.

The CPP came out with the statement following remarks from Vice Leni Robredo and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno about their views on solving the country’s insurgency problem.

Robredo, whose presidential bid is backed by the Liberal Party (LP), reportedly said she believes there is a need for “localized peace talks” as a way of addressing the “roots of the problem,” which she identified as poverty and inequality.

For his part, Moreno, who is running for president under Aksyon Demokratiko, was quoted as having described members of the New People’s Army (NPA) as people “who may have lost their way” and must be convinced to “return to the fold” of the law because “there is only one government.”

In response, the CPP said that both Robredo and Moreno “must go beyond the superficial and myopic view that the raging civil war across the country is a result merely of ‘local’ conditions and not borne by systemic problems broadly affecting the masses of peasants, workers and middle classes – especially the absence of land reform and national industrialization, which past governments have refused to undertake as a program to attain social justice and economic self-reliance and progress.”

Marco Valbuena, spokesman for the CPP Central Committee, said “other presidential candidates have yet to share their plans on how to carry forward peace negotiations with the revolutionary armed movement.”

Valbuena also reminded Robredo that President Duterte himself has been promoting “local peace negotiations.”

It has also long been promoted by Sara Duterte-Carpio as Davao mayor even if it has been proven to be a complete failure, he said.

Instead of promoting peace, “local peace negotiations” have been equated with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)’s “surrender drive” where local residents arbitrarily accused of being NPA members are forced to “pledge loyalty” to the AFP, the CPP spokesman said.

He said this approach has also been “accompanied by widespread human rights violations where the peasant masses have been subjected to relentless surveillance and intelligence operations, intimidation, unlawful arrests based on trumped up charges and extrajudicial killings.”

Valbuena said that Robredo – being a former rights lawyer – must look into the rampant military and police abuses perpetrated under the “local peace negotiations” strategy.

Posing a challenge to all those aspiring to be the next president, the CPP spokesman asked: “Are these candidates willing to reverese Duterte’s anti-peace talks policy by rescinding Proclmations 370 and 374, dismantling the National Task Force-ELCAC and doing away with the Anti-Terrorism Law (ATL) which are all giant barriers to the resumption of peace negotiations?”

According also to the CPP,  “local peace negotiations” have supposedly served as veil to conceal widespread corruption involving hundreds of millions of pesos in funds for ‘livelihood’ and ‘balik-baril’ programs, where people gathered to receive “subsidies” are made to sign blank papers, later used as evidence of their so-called surrender.

“These views on peace negotiations are known to have been promoted by the US and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in their zealous effort to impede peace negotiations,” he added.

Valbuena said it is still to be seen whether the presidential candidates will firmly stand against the Duterte regime’s “kill, kill, kill” policy and make a stand that will reflect the aspirations of peace advocates.

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