MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte's peace process adviser on Thursday hit the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) for its negative reaction to the government's declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
Government peace panel chair Silvestre Bello III said the CPP made a "false reading" of Duterte's proclamation when it called on the public to fight martial rule and ordered its military wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to ramp up its operations.
Duterte placed all of Mindanao under martial law after clashes erupted between government forces and terrorist group Maute in Marawi City.
"We are deeply disturbed that the Communist Party of the Philippines made a false reading of the intents of President Duterte in placing Mindanao under Martial Law," Bello said in a statement.
"The circumstances that precipitated, and the condition that warranted such declaration were matters of public knowledge. There was a need to restore law and order, protect the lives of the citizens and preserve private and state properties."
The CPP on Wednesday said the President's declaration of martial law will only embolden the military to commit more abuses.
"With martial law in Mindanao, Duterte has imposed himself as a military ruler ready to ram through the bureaucracy and trample on civilian processes," the CPP said.
The communist group said it will heavily oppose the martial rule, asking the NPA to accelerate its recruitment of fighters and “carry out more tactical offensives across Mindanao and the entire archipelago.”
"As proven under Marcos, waging revolutionary armed resistance is the most effective way of resisting martial law, defending the people’s democratic rights and inspiring them to wage ever greater struggles," it said.
Bello, however, said the CPP's reaction is misplaced, noting that the President has made it clear that he was not going after the communists and the government remains committed to pursuing peace with them.
"We therefore find the CPP directive to the NPA to intensify attacks as totally misplaced borne out of a grossly distorted appreciation of the President’s intention," he said.
"At the very least, it was an insult to the candor and genuineness displayed by the President and the GRP Panel in talking peace. At worse, it betrays the absence of sincerity of the CPP in the negotiating table.”
The bitter exchange comes just as the Philippine government and National Democratic Front peace panels are set to hold their fifth round of peace negotiations in the Netherlands from May 27 to June 1.
The two sides are expected to focus on finalizing the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms, considered an important and one of the most contentious agenda in the peace negotiations.