Barely three months after ordering an all-out-war against communist rebels, President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to resume negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front.
Duterte made the announcement on the same day that Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. disclosed that the CPP urban hit squad–known as the Special Partisan Unit (SPARU/Sparrow), are planning to liquidate top security officials under its so-called Oplan Hades to avenge its setbacks following the continuing government operations against the New People’s Army.
“I’m sending Sec. Bello to talk to them,” Duterte said Thursday during a briefing on the effects of Typhoon “Tisoy” in Legazpi City, Albay.
“I’m sending him back to [Joma] Sison and talk to him,” he added.
Early this year, the President shut down possible resumption of peace talks through Proclamation No. 360 and told communist groups to just “talk to the next President.”
In April, the President also directed the military and police to “learn the art of assassination” and create units similar to the communist rebel’s SPARU.
“If the NPA has sparrow, why do I not have sparrow? I told them, form a unit that will sparrow the NPA. I am addressing myself to the police and the military: learn the art of assassination,” he said.
Parlade, deputy chief of staff for civil military operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the NPA strike teams will target Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., among others.
“The decision was made last night during a meeting by the CPP Central Committee,” said Parlade without revealing where the CPP held its assembly.
Reacting to the assassination plot, Philippine National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac described it as an act of desperation and an old trick, especially as the founding anniversary of the communist approaches.
“Well, hindi naman bago ang mga ganitong banta sa seguridad ng ating mga matataas na pinuno lalo na at parating na naman ang founding anniversary ng CPP,” Banac said, adding the security sector was always on the alert against any potential attacks by criminal elements.
The supposed CPP plot was hatched after one ranking NPA leader and two of his comrades were killed by security forces in a shootout in Antipolo City.
Capt. Jayrald Ternio, Public Affairs Office chief of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division based in Tanay, Rizal, identified the slain NPA officer as Armando Lazarte alias Pat Romano, the secretary of the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee’s Sub-Regional Military Area 4A.
Lt. Col. Christopher Diaz, commander of the 80th Infantry Battalion that has jurisdiction over Rizal province, said Lazarte and his companions, while inside their safe house in Cupang Sierra Vista Subdivision, opened fire at the lawmen as they tried to serve an arrest warrant against the NPA leader who was wanted for murder and frustrated murder.
Records showed that Lazarte led the burning of construction equipment at the Kaliwa Dam project in Infanta, Quezon earlier this year and the series of roadside bombings against policemen in Baras and Antipolo City in 2018.