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AFP belies Joma: Talks progressing

Despite the rants of Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, localized peace talks seem to be working well as the number of New People’s Army fighters and supporters who have surrendered continues to rise, military officials said Monday.

“It’s funny, annoying and pitiful to hear Sison because he always says that local peace talks are just a waste of time and people’s money because they won’t succeed,” said Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, speaking in Filipino over radio dwIZ. “The mere fact that he continues to speak ill of this kind of peace negotiation just shows that this is bearing fruit.”

“The numbers do not lie. As we have said, over 11,000 of their comrades have surrendered since January of 2018,” he added.

Arevalo said that for the first three months of 2019, about 600 NPA fighters and supporters have surrendered to government troops.

“They have realized that they have been deceived and have descended from their mountain hideouts to rejoin their families, avail of government benefits, and live normal lives,” he said.

Government efforts to aid rebels and supporters who surrender are contained in the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

The E-CLIP, which was institutionalized by President Rodrigo Duterte on April 3, 2018, provides a complete package of assistance and interventions to former communist rebels and their immediate families to prepare them for integration to mainstream society.

These include skills development training from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, PhilHealth enrollment, housing, livelihood and legal assistance.

The Palace, meanwhile, dismissed Sison’s threats to deliver “more lethal blows against the Duterte administration.”

“Other than saying that his rants are psychologically challenged, they are undeserving of a response,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a text message.

In a statement on Saturday evening, Sison said that the “best way” to frustrate the administration is for the NPA to deliver more lethal blows on weak points of the enemy forces in the countryside.

The top communist official also promised “head blows” to the regime’s “most brutal, corrupt and drug-trading officials” in the cities.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also made light of Sison’s threat.

“Hahaha, lethal blows? With what and how? His men who are tired of his lies are coming down in droves to avail of the benefits being offered by the government,” Lorenzana told the Manila Standard.

“Sison’s threats are plain and simple bluster and braggadocio,” he added.

Lorenzana said Sison has become irrelevant but was “trying hard to appear relevant.”

“The NPA holdouts who are reduced to being terrorist extortionists devoid with any ideology will continue to extort, burn equipment and ambush soldiers and policemen,” he said. “That is the only thing they could do now.”

Earlier this year, Sison said overthrowing the government remains their top priority, vowing to strengthen the CPP’s armed wing.

“The National Democratic Front of the Philippines is authorized to be open to peace negotiations with the current and prospective regime of the reactionary government, but its principal work now is to work for the ouster of the Duterte regime,” Sison said in January.

Troops in the countryside are more than ready to face any attacks by remnants of the NPA, who are now desperate due to the government’s decision to permanently terminate the peace talks with their political leaders, the head of the AFP public affairs office, Col. Noel Detoyato, said.

“Our troops are already given instructions and we are actually in the offensive in running after their armed group and their fronts organizations,” Detoyato said Monday. On Sunday, a priest turned rebel leader in Negros Occidental, his wife and a 20-year-ld member of the communist movement were arrested by in their safehouse in Laguna.

Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde said Francisco Fernandez, 71 alias “Ago” consultant of the National Democratic Front and spokesman of Negros Regional Deputy Secretary was arrested in Brgy Calumpang Liliw, Laguna at about 5:16 a.m.

Fernandez was arrested along with his wife Cleofe Lagtapon, 66, regional deputy secretary for communications and education and 20-year-old Gee-Ann Perez, regional communications staff of Komite Rehiyon-Negros-Cebu-Bohol-Siquijor.

They were arrested on the strength of warrants issued by a regional trial court in Cadiz City, for murder.

READ: Joma pits NPA vs. Rody

READ: CPP junks ‘localized talks’

Topics: Communist Party of the Philippines , Jose Maria Sison , peace talks , New People’s Army
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