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Engaging in another peace talks with Reds ‘pointless,’ Esperon says

For National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., engaging in another round of peace negotiations with communist rebels is pointless.

"We have had many attempts to end the conflict with the communist terrorist group since 1986 with over 40 rounds of peace talks conducted and with the same people as negotiators," Esperon said in his position paper on Tuesday.

"But for the longest time, the peace talks were only used as a period to rest when badly beaten, seek reinforcements, and initiate recruitment. Engaging in another round of peace talks after all these years and all our efforts without significant changes is therefore pointless," he added.

Esperon clarified that his objection to the peace talk was not because of the report that he was included in the supposed "kill list" of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) nor because of the attacks of the communist rebels in the security forces' posts.

"What is objectionable is when the NPA (New People's Army), surely under the command of NDF (National Democratic Front) and CPP, attacks or ambushes civilians as they did in Barangay Libuton, Borongan City, Eastern Samar last December 13, 2019," Esperon said, adding that this act was clearly a violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

Esperon underscored that it is the characteristic of the communist group to be victorious over the Philippine government at all costs, even lives of innocent civilians were being put at risk.

Esperon, the vice chairman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and a former military chief, also mentioned the attacks of the communists during the holiday season when a ceasefire agreement is being observed.

"That is the true nature of their so- called National Democratic Revolution. Anything goes - bloodbath, duplicity and deception as long as it contributes to their eventual victory," Esperon said.


At the same time, Esperon criticized the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) of the CPP, which supposedly contains concrete steps towards liberating Filipinos from poverty, exploitation and underdevelopment.

"At first glance, this may appear to be pro-masses as it promises to benefit the majority, if not all, but if we look at it closely, the duplicitous character and self- interest of the communist terrorist group become evident, as the provisions do not directly reflect the best interest of the nation, but their own," Esperon said.

For Esperon, the CASER was crafted with the goal of turning the Philippine economic model to nationalist and socialist.

He added that the CPP's CASER would only "demobilize" the Philippine military by reducing their functions to civil works and infrastructure construction.

"After presenting the objectionable provisions of their proposed CASER, would it be beneficial to the nation that we engage the communist terrorist group in another round of peace talks?" Esperon said.

"We have alternatives to peace talks. We are now pursuing local peace engagements which have resulted to understanding and the mainstreaming of rebels," he added.

Duterte had ordered Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to talk to CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, months after terminating the dialogues in March this year.

Bello flew to The Netherlands on December 6 and was able to speak with Sison.

The government’s former chief negotiator had bared that the negotiations might resume this January. — RSJ, GMA News