Why peace talks with NDF likely to fail, according to ex-gov't negotiator

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 03 2017 10:24 PM

Communist rebel leaders Benito Tiamzon (L) and his wife Wilma (L) raise clinched fists as they prepare to board their vehicle after attending a rally outside the gates of the police headquarters, shortly after their release from detention at police headquarters in Manila on August 19, 2016. Ted Aljibe, AFP

MANILA - The government's peace talks with communist rebels are unlikely to succeed unless the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) is well represented in the negotiating table, a former peace negotiator for the government said Monday.

Former chief government negotiator Alex Padilla said he thinks none of the communist leaders participating in the talks have control over the CPP and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA).

"I don't think anything can be accomplished with the current talks unfortunately, particularly because they don't represent the right party," Padilla said on ANC's "Talkback."

Padilla explained that even though the National Democratic Front (NDF) claims that the CPP is part of its front, it does not stand true on the ground.

"The NDF always says that the CPP-NPA is part of their organization but it’s not in reality. Even Benito Tiamzon, who is supposedly the leader before he was arrested, I don’t think he represents the CPP-NPA, none of the panel does," he said.

Padilla added that the 4 conditions set by President Rodrigo Duterte for talks are a "recipe for failure."

These conditions state that any bilateral ceasefire pact must have clear parameters or terms of reference, non-recognition of any territorial claims of the rebel group, a halt to extortion or collection of revolutionary taxes, and the release of all prisoners held by the rebels.

"If you set conditions for the resumption of talks on either sides, I think that’s a recipe for failure and the biggest condition they will not be able to meet is on the revolutionary taxes," Padilla said.

Padilla stressed that the CPP-NPA needs to enforce revolutionary taxes in order to fund its operations.

"They need that power in order to enforce their revolutionary taxation. They need to do every know and then to burn a few buses, destroy a few vehicles even kidnap a few officials, they need to do that in order to instill the fear," he said.

Padilla also warned of the lack of prominent communist leaders on the ground other than those who are in The Netherlands for the talks.

"The fear now with the CPP-NPA is you hardly know any of the leaders. You don’t have any second echelon of leaders that you know of anyway...names of prominence," he said.

The government peace panel and the NDF on Monday (Manila time) returned to the negotiating table for the 4th round of talks in the hopes of forging a bilateral ceasefire.