Seven have been killed as the chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) says rebels have no choice but to intensify attacks after the collapse of peace talks.
Speaking from his office in Utrecht, The Netherlands, today (Saturday, July 22) Jose Sison said: “The revolutionary forces and the people have no other choice but to fight in response to Duterte’s threat of surrender or be killed Tokhang style.”
His comment refers to an order to arrest more than 20 ‘peace consultants’ of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) who represent the reds in the talks.
“Duterte has terminated the peace negotiations with his call to NDFP consultants to surrender or be hunted down,” Sison added.
Escalation in tensions
Yesterday’s attack by the New People’s Army (NPA) claimed the lives of one civilian and six policemen in Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental.
As we reported on Tuesday, a statement on the ‘Philippine Revolution Web Central’ website said: “The New People’s Army must continue to strengthen itself nationwide by carrying out armed counteractions and offensives across the country to defeat the Mindanao martial law and nationwide all-out war.”
These threats were followed on Wednesday with an attack on a convoy carrying 10 members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) in North Cotabato. One was killed and five injured.
In response, President Duterte ordered the cancellation of informal ‘back-channel’ peace talks. Addressing Sison, his former tutor at the Lyceum of the Philippines, he said: “No more talk, let’s fight. You are right, let’s stop talking because we are wasting our time.
“Let us renew the fighting for another 50 years. Anyway, all of us will not see the light of day on this revolution of yours.”
His words yesterday amplified what he told troops during a surprise visit to war-torn Marawi City on Thursday. “I don’t want to talk with them anymore,” he said. “They have killed so many of my soldiers. They have killed so many of my police.
“After this [the Marawi crisis], when the terrorists there are finished, let’s reorient. Let’s target the NPA because they owe us a lot.”
“Who doesn’t want peace?”
Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana described the recent series of attacks by the NPA as “atrocities”, citing arson attacks in Quezon province; the killing of a policeman in Bukidnon; landmine blasts in Quirino province, which injured six soldiers; the destruction of plantations in Surigao del Sur; the killing of soldiers buying food in a Palawan market and Wednesday’s attack on the PSG.
“We are all for peace. Who doesn’t want peace for our country?” he asked.
“But we can only talk about peace when both sides mean what they say. The treacherous communist-terrorist NPA has once again shown their utter lack of empathy with our suffering countrymen.”
The fifth round of official peace talks was suspended on May 27 after the CPP ordered the NPA to step up attacks against government troops.
However, earlier this month the government and the NDFP agreed to back-channel talks to prepare for the fifth round of formal talks pencilled-in for August.