Joma sees bloody battles in 2019, says Reds still open to talks

LUCENA CITY, Philippines – Top communist rebel leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison predicted an “unprecedented bloodshed” between government forces and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in 2019 amid hope of peace talk resumption.

“2019 can be a year of escalating offensives by the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP (Philippines National Police) and intensifying counter-offensives by the NPA,” Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), said in an online interview from his base in Utrecht, The Netherlands on Friday.

He added: “It can be a year of unprecedented bloodshed before Duterte considers that he is moving into the lame duck years of his six-year term, realizes that he cannot profitably proclaim martial law nationwide and obtain his fascist dictatorship through state terrorism and charter change to fake federalism.”

Sison said President Duterte might be forced to reopen the stalled peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the political arm of the communist insurgents.

“Duterte may seriously avail of the NDFP standing policy of being open to the resumption of the peace negotiations,” Sison, the NDFP chief political consultant, said.

The peace talks between the government and the NDFP broke down last year as the government cited the continued attacks by the Maoist-inspired guerillas against state troops despite ongoing negotiations.

Labor Secretary and chief of government peace panel negotiator Silvestre Bello III gave a glimmer of hope for the possible resumption of the negotiation despite the continued bloody combats.

“The President’s commitment to our country is inclusive and lasting peace for our country, if it means resuming the peace negotiations, why not? He’s trying to get all the avenues for a possible peace negotiation or settlement,” Bello said Thursday.

But he stressed that “there should be a show of sincerity” on the part of the communists.
Sison welcomed Bello’s “positive statements” about possible reopening of peace negotiations.

“Let us see whether there will be first a test of fighting strength or the peace talks shall resume sooner than we expect under conditions of continued fighting or ceasefire justified by an interim peace agreement,” Sison said. /cbb

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