The government peace panel has expressed dismay over the latest attacks of New People’s Army on government troops and communities.
“We are dismayed that although peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF are now making some substantial headway, their forces still continue to wage attacks that victimize civilians and inflict damage on the civilian sector,” Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, said in a statement on Wednesday, May 3.
Dureza said the public was now questioning the sincerity of the communist rebels amid the ongoing peace talks.
“Although a bilateral ceasefire is not yet in place, the public’s common reaction to these incidents questions the sincerity of those whom we talk and deal with across the table. The public also questions their capacity to manage and control their forces on the ground,” he said.
The rebels have attacked a a cattle ranch and banana plantation in Davao City over the weekend. The communists also launched an attack at a police station in Madella town in the province of Quirino.
“There are even calls now to stop the talks altogether and pursue an all-out military offensive against their armed groups,” Dureza said.
He said there was “no doubt” the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) “with the support of the civilian communities must and can deal with these contingencies.”
Despite the attacks, Dureza said peace talks would continue.
“No doubt, the task is not easy, taking every necessary step, but we will continue. We will not yield in our resolve. We will not be deterred,” he said.
“We who are tasked to seek a peaceful and principled settlement must pursue, with more vigor , these peace engagements with the communist rebels. Our expectation is that our unrelenting efforts in addressing the issues, bridging the ideological divide and finding a common ground may eventually pay off and bring about just, sustainable and enduring peace in the land,” he added.
Dureza emphasized the aspiration of President Rodrigo Duterte “to end this tragedy of Filipinos fighting Filipinos.”
“While he boldly deals with those who bring harm to the people, his dream is to bring peace through a just and principled settlement with all rebel groups in the land. Let us all close ranks and stay the course with him,” he said.
The next rounds of talks is scheduled on May 26 to June 1 in the Netherlands.