MANILA - Communist rebels' "insincere" willingness to resume peace talks with the government is a ploy to ease fighting space for their ground troops who have been cornered by state forces, former police chief-turned-senator Ronald Dela Rosa said Tuesday, a week after President Rodrigo Duterte announced that his administration will work on mending ties with the Reds.
Duterte had said he would send Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to meet with Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison as his "longing for peace" remains despite earlier announcing the "permanent termination" of peace talks with communist rebels.
"Lokohan na lang yang peacetalks na yan... Si Joma nag-open ng peace talks dahil nakikita nila na yung mga tao nila sa baba, naiipit na," Dela Rosa told reporters.
"Ginagamit nila 'yang peacetalks na 'yan para lumuwag 'yung fighting space sa baba... Mag-recruit, magre-arm, mag-consolidate ng troops," he said.
Dela Rosa, a long-time ally of the President, cited previous incidents of communists attacking state troops even after the government and the CPP agreed on a ceasefire. Among these was a series of Christmas day attacks in 2017 and torching of private corporations' equipment.
"We have proven time and time again, it is them who is not sincere to the government," he said.
"Are they sincere? Kung sincere sila, matagal na natapos itong kaguluhan natin," he said.
Duterte first signed Proclamation No. 360 in November 2017 that terminated peace negotiations between the government and National Democratic Front (NDF).
In December 2018, the President moved to create a national task force to “end local communist armed conflict." Three months later, he announced that the government would "no longer entertain any intervention or persuasions" to reconvene the peace panel.