Posted by: Chuck | April 30, 2013

The Philippines says peace talks with communist rebels have collapsed


Good friends and here is the straight scoop from the Big House. But first let me wish you all the best on this middle day of the week. I awoke this morning to the smile and sweet kiss from my wife Beng… The sky is blue without any gloom over the horizon and the birds fly as the gentle wind guides them.  It is a peaceful here in our home and the city of Danao. This morning Beng if I’d ever been to Ireland and answer was no nevertheless there is Irish melody in my heart.

The Philippines says peace talks with communist rebels have collapsed and a target of ending the decades-long insurgency by 2016 is impossible to achieve.

The government and the rebels had initially raised hopes in early 2011 that they were on the right track when they announced after top-level talks in Norway that both sides were committed to signing a peace deal by June 2012. But negotiations barely progressed after that.

Filipino government spokesman Padilla blamed the Netherlands-based communist leadership, the National Democratic Front, for the failure, accusing it of setting new and impossible conditions for talks such as the release of captured senior rebels. He said this had been a tactic of the rebels in more than two decades of peace talks with previous administrations, and questioned their sincerity in seeking peace.

Padilla said the government had not yet decided on its “new approach” for dealing with the rebels but it did want to re-open negotiations at some point.

The military estimates the rebels have only about 4,000 fighters nationwide, down from more than 26,000 at their peak in the 1980s. However, they remain a danger, particularly in rural areas where they can count on support from local populations who endure the worst of the country’s savage rich-poor divide.

The rebels have become more active ahead of next month’s mid-term elections when thousands of local positions will be contested. They killed two aides to a politician on April 20, and the military has accused them of extorting millions of dollars from many candidates in return for allowing them to campaign freely. The military said in February that the rebels killed 164 soldiers, policemen, security forces and civilians in 2012.

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