“There is yet no basis for the resumption of peace talks.” Thus stated Julieta de Lima, Interim Chairperson of the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in a recent interview. This was her reply to the Marcos II government’s statement that there will be no more peace talks with the NDFP.

De Lima explained that the Marcos II regime continues to enforce the issuances of former President Rodrigo Duterte preventing peace negotiations. “The Government of the Republic of the Philippines has not yet shown any desire to do away with the obstacles put up by Duterte since 23 November 2017.” She cited Duterte’s 2017 declaration terminating the negotiations and his designation of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and NDFP as ‘terrorist organizations’.

De Lima also said that GRP demands for “ceasefire first” and the laying down of arms for the talks to resume are unwise. “Why should the NPA lay down their arms or surrender without having peace negotiations first, and without satisfying the people’s just and reasonable demands for full national independence, democracy, social justice, economic development through genuine land reform and national industrialization, expansion of social services, cultural progress and independent foreign policy?” De Lima emphasized.

She also lambasted the GRP’s call for ‘localized peace talks’. She said, “These ‘localized peace talks’ are actually tricks of entrapment, deception, surrender and violation of revolutionary principles,” she said.

“As of now, the NDFP and all its allied forces have no choice but to wage the people’s democratic revolution against the obsession of the GRP to destroy the revolutionary movement and to preserve the unjust, oppressive and exploitative ruling system,” De Lima stated.

Meanwhile, the Citizens’ Alliance for Just Peace called for the resumption of peace negotiations at the national level in order to address the roots of the armed conflict. In a statement released on 23 July, the peace alliance said, “The roots of the armed conflict in the country, which includes poverty, landlessness, foreign domination of our economy, inaccessibility to services and inequitable distribution of resources, demand a comprehensive and systemic response.”

They stressed, “In this time of deepening economic crisis, it is counter-productive to engage in a very costly all-out-war or a program like the failed localized peace talks of the past administration.” These resulted in fake and forced surrenders, harassment and other rights violations, they said. “No local NPA command has actually engaged in said local talks.” They reported that the Armed Forces of the Philippines are coercing and misrepresenting civilians as armed combatants.

They called on the Marcos II regime to “respect the work and agreements that have been entered into by past leaderships” and “stop the practices of red-tagging, filing of trumped-up cases against dissenters, and extrajudicial killings; the release of all political prisoners; and the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC.” The CAJP is the largest alliance of peace advocates in the Philippines.