MARIHATAG, Surigao del Sur – The top communist rebel leader in Mindanao doubted the government’s sincerity in seeking an end to the country’s 46-year Maoist insurgency and is not hoping to see a happy end to the peace talks in his lifetime.
Speaking with reporters during the 46th anniversary rites of the Communist Party of the Philippines in Barangay San Isidro here, the 66-year-old Jorge Madlos said he supports the resumption of the peace talks between the National Democratic Front but the government has proven to be insincere in the past.
“We will continue to show interest in the peace talks,” he said, adding that the New People’s Army released several captive soldiers and policemen on Friday to show its goodwill in reopening peace negotiations that stalled three years ago.
“These are confidence-building measures and we hope they also show signs of sincerity,” said Madlos, also known as “Ka Oris” who is now the most wanted communist leader in the country with a bounty of P5.6 million after the arrest in Cebu of CPP chairman Benito Tiamzon last March.
But Madlos, who is the NDF spokesman for Mindanao as well as the highest-ranking NPA leader in the area, said the NPA will continue to launch offensives against the government until it addresses the social and economic roots of the communist insurgency in the country.
“The advance of the armed struggle does not necessarily depend on the peace talks. With or without peace talks, the armed struggle advances,” Madlos said, challenging the government to show sincerity should peace negotiations resume.
“The difficult situations in addressing the conflict are the reasons why both parties should pursue it,” said the ailing Madlos, who was reported by the military as having been bed-ridden last September.
Reporting on NPA achievements to thousands of CPP supporters, Madlos said the revolutionary movement is still expanding and gaining strength at least in Mindanao.
“In armed struggle, we have maintained the 46 guerrilla fronts despite the relentless fascist attacks by the AFP which has now more than 55 infantry battalions engaged in counter-revolutionary suppression campaigns in Mindanao. Not one front was destroyed,” Madlos said from a make-shift stage.
“The tactical offensives by the NPA totaled to more than 300 and confiscated hundreds of firearms of various types and inflicted casualties of more than a battalion of regular enemy troops and paramilitary forces while the NPA suffered casualties of a few Red fighters,” Madlos said.
The CPP anniversary rites were attended by thousands of people despite the blockade the military set up on roads leading to Barangay San Isidro.
Among the people who came was former agrarian reform secretary Hernani Braganza who met with key CPP and NPA officials, including NDF peace negotiator Fidel Agcaoili.
AFP spokesman Col Restituto Padilla said Braganza was provided a military escort on his way to Barangay San Isidro early Friday evening
But other participants were not so lucky and soldiers belonging to 2nd Scout Ranger Company of the 401st Infantry Battalion blocked convoys enroute to the gathering.
Among the blocked parties was that of Surigao del Sur Vice Governor Manuel Alameda and Bayan Muna Party Rep. Carlos Zarate who waited for hours.
Soldiers hiding their name tags, but led by a certain Sgt. Alvarez, blocked Alameda’s convoy at Sitio Mabong, which was already in Barangay San Isidro.
The blockade caused monstrous a traffic jam at the barangay road people continued to flock to join the CPP celebration.
Even nuns from the Missionary Sisters of Mary and other religious orders, Aglipayan priests and bishops and Protestant pastors were seen in the area.
Heated arguments ensued as soldiers prevented people from proceeding.
“We came here for the peace consultation because the provincial government of Surigao del Sur wanted peaceful resolution of this long overdue peace problem due growing insurgency issues in our province and here you are blocking us?.” Vice Governor Alameda said.
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