Friday, December 3, 2010

Philippines has the Longest Communist Insurgency

Why have peace talks with the NPA? Why can't the Philippines crush them the way Peru did with the Shining Path rebels? 

IN THE KNOW: World’s longest communist insurgency 

Philippine Daily Inquirer

THE AQUINO administration expressed its desire in October to revive peace talks between the government and communist rebels, hoping for a political settlementto end the 41-year leftist insurgency.

A new panel was reconstituted to talk with the New People’s Army (NPA) and the National DemocraticFront of the Philippines (NDFP), respectively the armed wing and political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
The government panel is now led by Health Undersecretary Alex Padilla, a human-rights lawyer, and its members include lawyer Pablito Sanidad of Baguio City, Ednar Dayanghirang of Davao Oriental, Lourdes Tison of Negros Occidental and Jurgette Honculada of Zamboanga.
The Netherlands-based NDFP chair Luis Jalandoni proposed to visit the country and meet with Mr. Aquino as a confidence-building move ahead of the resumption of the peace talks.
After getting what was supposedly a noncommittal response from the government, Jalandoni said he would reconsider his visit.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in November that Malacañang was open to a meeting with communist leaders, but it preferred that it happen after an agreement on ending the insurgency had been signed.
Off and on
The government and the rebels have been holding peace talks off and on since the administration of then President Cory Aquino.
The talks were suspended several times by either party.
In 2004, negotiations were scuttled with the NDFP accusing the Arroyo administration of “sabotaging” the talks by pressing for the rebels’ surrender upon signing of a final peace agreement.
Jalandoni said in a 2005 interview that the governmentwanted the NDFP to sign a “prolonged cease-fire” before the talks resumed, as well as a final peace agreement that would mean the surrender of the NPA.
He also accused the government of being behind the inclusion of the NDFP on the list of terrorist groups drawn up by the United States and the European Unionin 2002, and of using the terrorist tag to force it to sign the agreement.
All-out war
Jalandoni then said the NDFP would rather wait for a new administration than resume talks with the “crumbling” Arroyo administration.
In June 2006, Ms Arroyo declared an all-out war on the communist rebels and set aside P1 billion for the military and the police to crush the insurgency.
Root causes
In early 2007, Jalandoni said Norway was willing to again host exploratory peace talks in Oslo, but the Philippine government insisted that the NDFP first agree to a cease-fire before talks could resume.
In July that year, both Jalandoni and CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison rejected a proposal for a three-year cease-fire as a precondition for resuming the talks. This aimed to “crush” the communist insurgency without addressing the root causes of the conflict, they said.
Sison said formal talks could resume only after thegovernment did the following: Stop extrajudicial killings, abductions, tortures, mass displacement of people and other human rights violations; stop the terrorist blacklisting of the CPP, NDFP and the NPA; and indemnify victims of human-rights abuses during the Marcos regime.
In 2008, the government negotiating panel asked the NDFP to agree to a cease-fire as a precondition but was rejected anew. The NDFP feared that as soon as it approved a prolonged cease-fire, the Arroyo administration would deem all previously signed bilateral agreements superseded, and surrender negotiations would take the place of substantive talks on basic reforms.

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