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Ceasefire necessary to talks with communists–AFP spokesman

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:09:00 07/21/2008

MANILA, Philippines — A ceasefire is “necessary” to resume formal peace talks between the government and communist rebels, the spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Monday.

At the same time, Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr. said the continued offensives and extortion activities of the New People’s Army (NPA) show that the communists are insincere about talking peace with the government.

“The ceasefire is necessary for us to really have time to talk peace because it is ironic that we are talking peace while our soldiers in the field are fighting,” Torres told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

Torres was referring to the call of former Armed Forces chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr., now the presidential adviser on the peace process, who had proposed a three-year truce with the NPA to revive peace negotiations.

Asked if Esperon’s successor, General Alexander Yano, would make a similar call, Torres said: “You should ask him that. I still do not know, but what I am definite about is he is seeking the advice of concerned staff in the AFP if he would bring out that recommendation.”

Yano could not be immediately reached for comment. An aide, who answered his phone, said he was presiding over a conference at the Eastern Mindanao Command headquarters in Davao City.

Last week, the NPA ambushed government troops in Masbate province the same day that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo met her Cabinet there in Placer town. This followed attacks on communication towers and mining firms that refused to pay “revolutionary tax.”

“They [NPA] have to show sincerity for us to be able to talk peace. That is a very important ingredient in talking peace, you have to be sincere,” Torres said.

“Giving directive to launch more offensives is definitely not a sign of sincerity,” he added.

Arroyo has set a 2010 deadline to “defeat” the nearly four-decade-old communist insurgency.

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Written by joelguinto

MonUTC2008-07-21T08:37:02+00:00UTC07bUTCMon, 21 Jul 2008 08:37:02 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

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