Mass surrenders, terror tag forcing Reds to push peace talks

By Priam Nepomuceno

April 3, 2018, 11:09 am

MANILA -- The growing number of surrendering New People's Army (NPA) members and supporters, the sanctions and charges awaiting businesses supporting them and their looming terror tag are the primary reasons why the rebel group is now eagerly pushing for the resumption of the peace talks.

This was enumerated by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a statement Tuesday.

"First, their fighters and mass base are surrendering in droves. As of last count, more than 4,000 have done so nation-wide, with the bulk coming from Eastern Mindanao. More and more are returning to society because of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and their desire to give their families a better future," Lorenzana said.

"Second, the President has given notice that any business found paying and helping the NPA would be closed. Rather than serve as milking cows of lazy insurgents, these establishments can cooperate with our authorities and enjoy the protection of our security forces without having to pay anything," the DND chief pointed out.

"Third, they are about to be declared by the court as a terrorist organization. They can no longer hide their sinister plans and actions by using their political ideology as their legal cover," he stressed.

Lorenzana also added that the NPAs are not really out for genuine peace during negotiations as they are using respite provided by the talks to strengthen their armed rebellion.

"Let us not delude ourselves because it is not. They will just use the peace talks with the government as their so-called democratic space to gain time and advantage to further their armed rebellion. Once their purpose is accomplished, they would create situations to break off the talks. They have done this many times in the past and that is the reason why we have not had any progress in the last three decades," he added.

The DND chief also said that he is flattered by the rebel accusation that he is the cause of the peace talks' stoppage.

On Nov. 23, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation 360, ordering the termination of all peace negotiations and meetings with the rebel group.

The termination was an offshoot of the rebel atrocities and other acts of violence against civilians and security forces.

"This, I consider, is a fulfilment of my patriotic duty to stand and defend the people against their deceptive schemes and despicable acts," he added. (PNA)