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Joma scoffs at AFP claim that he no longer controlled the NPA

Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison on Tuesday dismissed Armed Forces of the Philippines' claim that he no longer had control over the New People’s Army given the alleged attacks staged against government forces during a holiday ceasefire.

“I am legally the chief political consultant of the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) in peace negotiations with the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines). It is the NDFP negotiating panel that communicates with the revolutionary leading organs of the NDFP, CPP, and NPA in the Philippines,” Sison told GMA News Online.

“These AFP authorities you are citing are anti-ceasefire and anti-peace by trying to impugn the role of the NDFP negotiating panel under the pretext of casting doubts on my role and functions in peace negotiations,” he added.

AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo had claimed that communist leaders like Sison had lost control over the NPA's members.

“Nasa kanila po ‘yan kung papaano nila ipapaliwanag. Pero malinaw sa amin dito… 'yung mga leader na sinasabi nila katulad ni Jose Maria Sison, wala na po silang control sa kanilang tauhan sa baba,” Arevalo said in an interview on Dobol B sa News TV.

President Rodrigo Duterte and the CPP had agreed to a holiday ceasefire on Sunday following recommendations from the government and NDFP peace panels.

On Monday, hours after the ceasefire was declared, a platoon of soldiers pulling out from the field was fired upon by alleged armed communists in Barangay Baay, Labo town in Camarines Norte.

The attackers reportedly shot at and lobbed an alleged improvised explosive device at the government troops, killing one soldier and injuring six others.

Meanwhile, in Tubungan, Iloilo, state security forces onboard a patrol vehicle were also ambushed by suspected communist rebels. Two cops were injured in this attack.

The police officers were also pulling out from the area, pursuant to the unilateral and reciprocal ceasefire, when a landmine was detonated in Barangay Singon.

‘Sheer psywar’

Sison said any complaint or allegation of violation of the ceasefire agreement between the government and NDFP should be presented to the Joint Monitoring Committee under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and to the alleged offending party.

He criticized the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police for immediately putting the blame on the communist group.

“It is malicious or sheer psywar for the AFP and PNP authorities of their superiors to merely make press releases against the CPP, NPA, and NDFP,” said Sison.

He explained that even if issued and publicized earlier, the ceasefire order of the Central Committee of the CPP to all NPA commands and units takes effect only after the government issues its own suspension of military operations (SOMO) and suspension of police operations (SOPO) and furnishes copies to the NDFP, the press, and the public.

“The government panel had not yet provided the NDFP with said SOMO and SOPO before the alleged two incidents in Camarines Norte and Iloilo.  Neither were the press and the public given copies of said documents to reciprocate the CPP ceasefire order to the NPA,” he said.

He further argued that, as of Monday, there were only two alleged incidents that occurred hundreds of kilometers apart.

“They do not mean the deliberate and systematic violations of the ceasefire agreement,” he claimed.

However, Sison said “the spoilers  and saboteurs of the ceasefire agreement and the possible resumption of the peace negotiations are claiming otherwise.” 

“Top officials of the government have been issuing statements against the ceasefire agreement and the peace process and contradicting Duterte as GRP president and commander-in-chief and his representatives in talks with the NDFP,” he said.

Sison went on to accuse AFP and PNP authorities and their superiors of being remiss in their duty by failing to issue the SOMO and SOPO and “by moving their units against the NPA which remains in the mode of active defense, especially because of the non-issuance of the SOMO and SOPO.”

The communist leader then claimed it was the AFP and PNP who were in violation of the ceasefire agreement, based on the reports from the commands and units of the NPA. — DVM, GMA News