Sunday, June 16, 2013

Gov’t affirms commitment to NDF talks but stress need to protect people and nation

Gov’t affirms commitment to NDF talks but stress need to protect people and nation

Manila – Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles on Monday emphasized the government’s unwavering commitment to pursue peace for the country through negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF), but not at the expense of the safety of the people and the sovereignty of the nation.
“The Philippine government has always been open and committed to bring peace to our land, through peace talks with all insurgent groups. Failing that, we shall pursue it through other means that would effectively bring peace to our people, through peaceful means,” Deles said.
The peace adviser added that “this involves peace and development programs guided by a strict regime of respect for human dignity and human rights, even as government defends itself and its citizens from the violence inflicted by armed rebel groups.”
Commenting on the CPP/NPA/NDF’s allegations of human rights abuses, Deles asserted that “it is the government’s obligation to defend its integrity and sovereignty and its citizens from parties that seek to overthrow it and harm its populace. But when government reacts accordingly, the communist rebels quickly and conveniently accuse us of human rights violations.”
Deles added, “We trust that our people can see through the propaganda line of the CPP/NPA/NDF.”
She cited as a case in point the NPA’s complaint about air strikes against the rebel group during pursuit operations in Malibcong, Abra on May 30 and 31.
“According to the CPP in the Cordillera, air strikes by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Malibcong injured two teenagers. The AFP has not denied that there were air strikes, but Mayor Benido Bacuyag of Malibcong has verified that there were no civilian casualties. If the NPA insists that two teenagers were injured, could it be that they were not civilians but NPA child soldiers?” she asked.
Continuing violence
Deles cited the record of violent actions by the NPA against civilians, clear human rights violations that have made it difficult to resume the talks at the peace table.
“The  recent ambush-killing of eight off-duty police officers in  Alacapan, Cagayan using IEDs (improvised explosive devices); their massive extortion campaign against political candidates during the last elections; the killing of 27 civilians from La Castellana in Negros in an ambush last January;  the attack on the Good Friday procession in Butuan City last March; the ambush of Ruthie Guingona, mayor of Gingoog, Misamis Oriental, that killed two of her bodyguards in April; the grenade attack on a fiesta in Paquibato, Davao City that wounded 50 civilians in September 2012;  and the assassination of Vicente Ferrazzini in Davao City in 2005 are only some examples of the cruel and senseless violence inflicted  by the NPA on non-combatants,” Deles recounted.
Pursuing peace
“It is unfortunate that after 22 difficult years of trying to achieve peace with the CPP/NPA/NDF, the talks are again in another prolonged impasse. But we have realized that the tortuous and protracted pace of the peace talks has been designed by the CPP/NPA/NDF precisely to make the process protracted, and in fact, unending, while, without conceding anything to government, it harvests for itself as many concessions as it can in terms of virtual international recognition and the release of their detained comrades.”
Peace negotiations, she said, “should have a clear agenda for ending violence and bringing peace.”
Looking forward, Deles asserted that “there is a need for a ‘new approach’ to the peace negotiations under which the community and other peace stakeholders should play a pivotal role. And on this rests our hope and belief that peace will, sooner than later, reign in our land.” #

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