THE EASTERN Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) and 10th Infantry Division showed support for the exploratory talks between the Marcos administration and the communist rebel group, which may lead to a potential final peace agreement.
Lt. Col. Maria Cristina Manuel, the spokesperson of Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), said during the AFP-PNP briefing held at The Royal Mandaya Hotel that they are fully behind President Marcos Jr.’s decision to grant amnesty to convicted rebels.
“We are optimistic that this will not only save precious lives but will also clear the path toward transformative change and reconciliation. But we are also hopeful that this progress will also further encourage the remaining NPA members to surrender and address their legal status as we aim to unite behind the common cause, ” Manuel said.
Nevertheless, all army units will continue the military offensives to defeat the remaining communist rebels and dismantle the weakened guerilla fronts. In fact, she said they are about to declare another guerilla front as fully crushed.
“It’s actually a matter of time before we totally diminish the presence of communist terrorists here in Eastern Mindanao, ” she added.
On the other hand, 10th Infantry Division spokesperson Major Mark Anthony Tito echoed the same sentiment.
“We are hopeful that this will achieve a just and lasting peace here in our area of responsibility,” he said.
Since there is no final peace deal and ceasefire, he said their military offensives will continue. “What we have done is an ongoing focus on military operations and other civil-military operations and we are focused now on our campaign (to end communist insurgency),” he added.
The government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) have agreed to resume peace talks to end a decades-old insurgency. The two parties have met informally since 2022 in the Netherlands and Norway for discussions facilitated by the Royal Norwegian Government. They reached a consensus on Nov. 23.
Meanwhile, Vice President Sara Duterte on Monday criticized that reopening peace talks with communist rebels is like “an agreement with the devil.”
Duterte’s father, former President Rodrigo Duterte, broke off peace negotiations with the communists six years ago.
“Mr. President, we can negotiate for peace and reconciliation and pursue meaningful development efforts in the Philippines without capitulating to the enemies,” she said in a video message addressed to President Marcos Jr. and the Filipino people.
As she addressed the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, Duterte also challenged Mr. Marcos’ efforts to grant pardons to captured CPP members.
Moreover, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Romeo Brawner Jr. acknowledged that the vice president’s stance is a popular view that “even soldiers” would agree on.
In a television interview on Tuesday, Brawner said: “I cannot blame the vice president for saying this. In fact, this opinion is shared by so many in our country, even soldiers. In our Viber group, there are similar sentiments because of the experience we’ve had with them. We have sat down with them to talk peace but what they were really doing was strengthening the New People’s Army.”
Brawner was referring to the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its umbrella organization, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
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