President Duterte has decided to give the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) one more chance to put an end to their 49-year rebellion against the Philippine government.
The President had terminated the talks last November over the CPP-NPA’s alleged demands for a coalition government, their continued attacks on government forces and civilians, their refusal to adopt a common ceasefire agreement, and their continued collection of what they call “revolutionary taxes.”
It has now been four months since the talks were stopped but the hopes for their resumption have continued, the latest being a resolution signed by 61 members of the House of Representatives urging a return to the conference table. Last Thursday, the President said he was ready to give peace another chance, with talks in about two months, but there must be a ceasefire agreement, he said, and the NPA must stop collecting its revolutionary taxes.
The NPA, among their many depredations according to Army intelligence reports, has attacked 89 cell towers since 2002 – 23 in Region 5 (Bicol), 19 in Region 11 (Davao), and 13 in Region 3 (Central Luzon), because Globe Telecom and its foreign partner Singapore Telecom refused to pay the NPA tax. These three regions accounted for 62 percent of all tower attacks in the country – a major reason for the difficulties and problems of the country’s Internet services program.
This year, the attacks appear to have been stopped because of the increased presence of Army teams in the wake of the liberation of Marawi City and the patrols in areas that used to be controlled by the NPA. Also a possible factor, according to the Army, was the telco’s stepped-up corporate social responsibility (CSR) program and localized hiring of personnel, mostly recommended by barangay officials.
This Army assessment was made at its 120th anniversary celebration last March, with Lt. Gen. Glorioso V. Miranda, commanding general of the Philippine Army, renewing the Army’s pledge to “serve our people and secure our land,” as part of its commitment to be a world-class Army that is a source of national pride.
The Army and all the other armed services as well as the Philippine National Police have long been in the decades-old fight against the New People’s Army and they are indeed a source of national pride. They will have a well-earned rest from fighting the rebellion if the renewed peace talks, set to begin in about two months, will finally end it.