We are dismayed that although peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF are now making some substantial headway, their forces still continue to wage attacks that victimize civilians and inflict damage on the civilian sector.
Although a bilateral ceasefire is not yet in place, the public’s common reaction to these incidents questions the sincerity of those whom we talk and deal with across the table. The public also questions their capacity to manage and control their forces on the ground. There are even calls now to stop the talks altogether and pursue an all-out military offensive against their armed groups.
There is no doubt at all that our security forces — the AFP and the PNP — with the support of the civilian communities must and can deal with these contingencies.
On the other hand, we who are tasked to seek a peaceful and principled settlement must pursue, with more vigor , these peace engagements with the communist rebels. Our expectation is that our unrelenting efforts in addressing the issues, bridging the ideological divide and finding a common ground may eventually pay off and bring about just, sustainable and enduring peace in the land.
No doubt, the task is not easy, taking every necessary step, but we will continue. We will not yield in our resolve. We will not be deterred.
Secretary Silvestre Bello III, government panel chair and his panel are now preparing for the forthcoming 5th round of talks on May 27 to June 1 in the Netherlands. The working committees of both sides have been meeting continuously in the country for the purpose.
President Duterte’s aspiration is to end this tragedy of Filipinos fighting Filipinos. While he boldly deals with those who bring harm to the people, his dream is to bring peace through a just and principled settlement with all rebel groups in the land. Let us all close ranks and stay the course with him.