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Peace talks with Reds remain stalled

MANILA – A peace agreement between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front this year remains doubtful as the two sides continue to disagree on certain terms and preconditions.

The CPP-NPA-NDF, which commemorated its 43rd anniversary last Dec. 26, stressed again its demand for the release of all its so-called consultants from government prisons before it engages in peace talks.

In a statement issued January 2, the CPP assailed the continued detention of Tirso “Ka Bart” Alcantara, who it claimed as peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) NDFP Southern Tagalog representative.

The CPP said that Alcantara was arrested just days before the resumption of formal peace talks early last year. “His arrest by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was a direct assault on the peace process. His continued detention as well as the continuing incarceration of 12 other NDFP consultants underscore the failure of the Philippine government to fulfill its obligations in its peace negotiations with the NDFP.”

The CPP said the other consultants of the NDFP who remain detained in various prison facilities include Alan Jazmines, Randy Malayao, Edgardo Friginal, Eduardo Serrano, Eduardo Sarmiento, Leopoldo Caloza, Emeterio Antalan, Ramon Patriarca, Danilo Badayos, Alfredo Mapano, Pedro Codaste and Edwin Brigano.

They are among more than 350 political prisoners still languishing in jail. Seventy of these prisoners were arrested under the Aquino regime.

“In negotiations with the NDFP, the Aquino regime has repeatedly promised to expedite the release of the NDFP consultants in order to allow them to carry out their duties in the peace negotiations,” said the CPP. “Such a commitment was made three times in the past year, twice in signed agreements in January and February, and once in consultation with the Norwegian third-party facilitator in September.”

“To push forward the peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Philippine government, the CPP and all revolutionary forces reiterate the demand for the immediate release of Ka Bart and all other NDFP consultants,” said the CPP. “The Aquino regime continues to condone violations of the JASIG and has resorted to vulgarizing the standing agreements with the NDFP in the hope of pushing the revolutionary forces away from the negotiating table and putting an end to the peace negotiations.”