By Delfin Mallari Jr.
Inquirer Southern Luzon
Posted date: August 01, 2010

LUCENA CITY, Quezon, Philippines – Exiled communist rebel leaders slammed the “worn-out” strategy of the government to hold localized peace talks with New People’s Army unit leaders in the country.

“Localized peace talks is a worn-out and proven failed ploy of the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) to give the illusion of peace talks. It is also a vain attempt to split the revolutionary movement,” Luis Jalandoni, peace panel chairman of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), said in an e-mailed reaction sought by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Jalandoni, now based in Utrecht, The Netherlands, stressed that the NDFP would continue to observe a strict policy against localized peace talks.

“Only the NDFP negotiating panel is authorized by the national leadership of the NDFP to negotiate with the GRP. All units of the revolutionary forces follow this NDFP policy,” he said.

The NDFP is the political arm of communist rebels that has been holding on and off peace negotiations with the government.

On Thursday, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin announced that the government would expand its peace efforts to end the more than four decades-old communist insurgency by holding peace negotiation not only with top level NDFP officials abroad but also with NPA field commanders in the country.

When sought for his reaction, Communist Party of the Philippine Jose Maria Sison, also based in Utrecht, assailed the rehash peace strategy of the government.

“So-called localized peace talks have long been exposed as mere fakery by the GRP and its political and military agents. No local CPP cadre or NPA commander would be foolish to expose himself and his comrades and allies to military and police surveillance and to future bloody actions by the reactionary government and military,” Sison said in a statement sent to Inquirer via Facebook.

He added: “It looks like the scheme of the Aquino regime is to try to destroy the revolutionary forces by armed force in the next three years or even six years, while the regime pays lip service from time to time to be for the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations at the appropriate national level.”

President Benigno Aquino III has expressed his administration’s readiness to observe a ceasefire with communist insurgents in a renewed bid to resume the aborted peace talks with Maoist-inspired rebels.

Top rebel leaders positively responded to the peace calls and said they have long been waiting for government emissaries to re-open the stalled peace negotiation.

However, the communists flatly rejected the ceasefire pre-condition before the start of the peace talks.

“Until now, there is no emissary to iron out the kinks for the resumption of the peace negotiations. Aquino seems to be ignorant of or willfully disregarding The Hague Joint Declaration and other agreements already forged by the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels,” Sison said.

Peace talks between the government and the communist insurgents have been stalled since 2004 after the rebels protested the government’s alleged inaction in having them removed from the terrorist lists of the United States and the European Union.

The government and the NDFP peace panels attempted several times to resume the negotiation. But the peace initiatives always bogged down due to the adamant stance taken by parties in pushing for terms before the resumption of the talks.