The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process extends its condolences to the families of the victims of separate NPA attacks in Masbate City, Masbate, and Buenavista, Quezon which happened this past week.

It has come to our attention that certain groups are citing these senseless acts of violence to revive their call for the resumption of national peace talks between the Philippine government and the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG).

What we find disturbing is that the CTG’s wanton disregard for the rule of law and its disrespect for human rights were exactly the reasons which compelled President Rodrigo Duterte to terminate national peace talks with the former.

So what we want to know at this point are their real motivations in pushing for the resumption of the national peace talks. What is really their endgame?

Over the past five years, President Duterte has pushed forward the Comprehensive Philippine Peace Process, and has made it one of the major pillars of his administration’s Peace and Development Agenda.

Following the termination of national peace talks with the CTG, the President issued Executive Order No. 70, which mandated the use of a Whole-of-Nation Approach to end the local communist armed conflict.

Under E.O. 7O are 12 lines of effort that specifically address the root causes of the communist armed conflict, which clearly disprove the allegations by the left that the government has failed to address the plight of the people, especially in the countryside.

Among these 12 lines of effort is Localized Peace Engagement (LPE), a mechanism that directly engages stakeholders on the ground, and the CTG members themselves, using two distinct tracks:

The first track is community consultations and problem-solving sessions, while the second one is local peace dialogues with the CTGs.

Since the implementation of E.O. No. 70, countless rebels have returned to the folds of the law, and are now living as peaceful, productive and law-abiding citizens. They no longer have reason to engage in armed struggle.

But with these certain groups’ renewed call to put the national peace talks back on track, it is obvious that the CTG leadership is once again seeking attention, as the successful implementation of E.O. No. 70 has simply rendered them irrelevant.

As these recent spate of attacks will bear us out, we believe the resumption of national peace talks at this point is an exercise in futility, given that the implementation of E.O. No. 70 has largely benefited the Filipino people, rather than the self-interests of a few.

Let us not turn a blind eye to the real issue before us. The CTG murdered innocent people, and they must be brought to justice, not only for these recent killings, but for the countless crimes they have committed against their countrymen — and humanity.

Rest assured, that the national government will continue to use the Whole-of-Nation Approach as an instrument to put an end to the local communist armed conflict, and bring a just and lasting peace to our people.

As for CTG members who wish to lay down their arms, the government is here to accept and help you, as you turn away from a life of armed violence and embrace the path of peace. ###