Manila – The Philippine Reds, eager to exploit President Gloria Arroyo's political woes, have called off all peace talks with her "crumbling administration". The communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF) said it would rather wait for a new government before resuming negotiations.
Apart from supporting the ouster of Mrs Arroyo and Vice-President Noli de Castro, the Front is also backing the setting up of a "transitional governing council" that will call for new elections within six months, Mr Luis Jalandoni, chief negotiator of the Utrecht-based NDF panel said.
"There can be no meaningful peace talks with this administration. After this administration is replaced, then we can iron out the kinks in the peace talks," Mr Jalandoni said in a phone interview from Utrecht, Holland.
"After this administration is replaced, then we can iron out the kinks in the peace talks," Mr Jalandoni said.
The NDF has been holding peace talks on and off with the government since 1986, starting with the administration of former President Corazon Aquino. The talks had been suspended several times by either party.
Mr Jalandoni accused the Arroyo administration of sabotaging the negotiations by pressing the New People's Army (NPA) to surrender by signing a final peace agreement to end the Marxist insurgency. The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which has been waging a "people’s war" since 1968.
He alleged that the government was also behind the terrorist listing of the CPP/NPA/NDF and CPP founder Jose Maria Sison by the United States and the European Union to force the Front to surrender.
"The Arroyo administration is using the terrorist listing to force the Front to sign a final peace agreement," Mr Jalandoni said.
* Reds scrap peace talks (Inquirer News Service, July 21)