MANILA - The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on Monday warned presidential aspirants that so-called peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) are bogus.
Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy, NTF-ELCAC spokesperson for sectoral concerns, reiterated that communist groups have been classified internationally as terrorist organizations, the reason why candidates should not enter into negotiations with them.
In a television interview over the weekend, Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao, and Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso, answered "yes" to the question on whether they would continue the peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF.
"It is either Vice President Leni Robredo, Mayor Isko Moreno, Senator Ping Lacson, and Senator Manny Pacquiao have no idea about the true nature of these bogus peace talks and are thus ignorant about who it is they are dealing with or that they are indifferent to the grievous consequences of their actions on our people and future generations of Filipinos," Badoy's statement read.
"The bogus peace talk is a tool the CPP-NPA-NDF uses in its extensive armory to prolong the protracted war in the countryside with the express goal of overthrowing the government through violent means -- but not without first bringing great harm and suffering on our people," the statement further read.
Badoy said every time the Philippine government engages in peace talks with communist terrorist groups, men in uniform die while recruitment among the poor and the youth remained highly active as they take advantage of the government's efforts for lasting peace and use the negotiations to protect them.
"During these bogus peace talks, too, were when high ranking members of the CPP-NPA-NDF who committed grave crimes against our people were released and when NPA terrorists roamed freely without any fear of arrest because those bogus peace talks provided protection to these terrorists," Badoy stated.
Semblance of legitimacy
Negotiating with communists will give them a semblance of legitimacy and respectability that may enable them to acquire foreign funding.
"In other words, the Philippine government going down to the level of these terrorists gives them the camouflage of respectability they need in the international arena to make it seem that they are what they claim to be -- legitimate revolutionaries -- rather than what they truly are: terrorists," the statement read.
From the peace talks initiated by the Philippine government in the past, Badoy said the costly lesson learned was that "there is no peace to be had when dealing with terrorists and therefore we must never again negotiate with terrorists. Hence the firm and unequivocal termination of these bogus peace talks by our President".
Badoy said the NTF-ELCAC found it alarming that the four presidential aspirants have shown a grievous error in judgment, considering that they are among most powerful people in the country.
She said that the communists' reign for over five decades only means that they "have friends in high places who lent them cover and legitimacy the way these four are doing now".
The NTF-ELCAC said that if the presidential candidates are sincere in their love for the country, they must educate themselves about the nature of the enemy and the methods used to bring destruction to the country.
No to peace talks
By agreeing to resume peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF, Badoy said Robredo, Lacson, Pacquiao, and Domagoso "have once again given these bogus peace talks an appearance of constitutionality and justice even. And in doing so, have harmed the country they claim to love".
Instead of supporting bogus peace talks, Badoy said they should instead vow to support and pour in funds on the highly successful localized peace process, calling them the genuine peace talks.
Over 24,000 violent extremists have peacefully surrendered to the government and rejoined civil society.
"The entire guerrilla fronts all over the country have been dismantled as a direct result of ordinary citizens joining hands with the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), finally experiencing government's care and roundly rejecting this inhumane and violent ideology," the statement read.
Badoy said a candidate asking for the people's trust must be worthy of it.
"Unless these four presidential aspirants educate themselves first about those bogus peace talks and the nature of the beast and change their minds about the egregious pronouncements they made to resume peace talks, it is but right to say that they showed the Filipino people that they are not worthy of the trust they ask from us and are unfit to hold the highest office of the land," the statement read.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the NDF as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as "an integral and separate part" of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973. (PNA)