An April 29, 2013, press release from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel chair Alexander Padilla on Friday said that the Aquino administration is considering a “new approach” to peacefully resolve the armed conflict with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) amid the 22-month impasse in the negotiations and the mounting violence inflicted by the NPA on civilian targets.
“We cannot wait forever for the other side if they continually refuse to go back to the negotiating table without preconditions,” he said. “The government will be taking a new approach to pursue peace.”
Padilla said, “We have always been open to resume formal negotiations with them, but they keep on insisting on preconditions, such as the release of their detained consultants. Discussions under the Special Track have also been closed since they have come up with new demands.”
The Special Track was proposed by Jose Maria Sison to fast-track the negotiations through an agreement on a Draft Declaration on National Unity and Just Peace which would lead to an immediate ceasefire and creation of a Committee for National Unity, Peace and Development. The ST imposed no preconditions and would skirt the protracted process of the regular track.
In pursuit of the ST, the GPH and the CPP/NPA/NDF met on December 17-18, 2012 in The Netherlands where they agreed to discuss further a draft Declaration of National Unity and Just Peace prepared by Sison.
Padilla related that when the parties resumed the Special Track meeting on February 25-26, 2013, “Instead of discussing the Sison draft, the NDF proposed three new documents that backtracked from their original position on a Draft Declaration, particularly on ceasefire, which they now subjected to preconditions. They also reverted to the prolonged and untenable process of the Regular Track.”
Apart from the demand to free their detained consultants, the CNN also demanded that the GPH abolish its peace and development programs, such as the Conditional Cash Transfer, PAMANA and Oplan Bayanihan. “These demands are just preposterous. We don’t want to engage in a negotiation where the other party is clearly fooling us,” Padilla said.
“The ball is now in their hands. They were the ones who initiated the Special Track and they were the ones who ended it.” He added, “The GPH doesn’t want to return to the regular track (formal talks) because it has been going nowhere for the last 27 years.”
Padilla reiterated the government’s call to the NPA to end the hostilities on the ground following a series of attacks on civilian targets, including the recent ambush of Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie Guingona and her companions last Saturday. Her driver and bodyguard were killed and two others were wounded. The NPA has apologized and taken responsibility for the attack.
“If the NPA understands the true meaning of taking responsibility, it should stop inflicting violence on our society,” Padilla said. “If its apology (to the Guingonas) means anything at all, it should cease and desist from further disrupting the life of the nation with impunity. It should realize that it cannot reform society by destroying its essence. They must put down their guns and pursue their desired reforms in peaceful, sincere and constructive dialogue and culturally acceptable ways,” Padilla said.
Commenting on the statement of NDF-Mindanao spokesperson Jorge Madlos that they did not expect the incident to occur, Padilla asked, “What did he expect to happen when 50 armed rebels accost a convoy of a politician in a deserted rural road in the middle of the night? If they did not mean to kill Mayor Guingona, why was her car so mercilessly peppered with bullets and decimated with grenades?”
Padilla reiterated the Government’s stance that it remains open to renewed talks with the CNN under a new framework. “We are always open to peace negotiations. But the other side has to do better than present endless roadblocks to formal talks. We need to see sincerity and political will on their part to seek peaceful ways to build consensus between them, the government and the whole of society and put an end to the senseless violence they are inflicting on our people especially on innocent civilians.”