Byline: FERDIE J. MAGLALANG & EDMER F. PANESA
Malacanang maintained yesterday it will still pursue its peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF) despite the United States governments decision to include the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army in its official roster of 34 foreign terrorist organizations worldwide.
Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the government peace panel will keep its communication lines open to the NDF peace panel for the possible resumption of the peace talks that the government hopes will result in the forging of a final peace pact with the group.
"As far as we are concerned, we are still open (to peace talks). Our communication lines are open," he said.
He added that to show determination that the government is sincere on its offer of peace to the NDF, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the President has appointed two additional government negotiators to deal with the NDF.
"If you will note the additional negotiators were assigned which goes to show that we are seriously pursuing all avenues of peace," he said, referring to Presidential Adviser on Special Concerns Norberto Gonzales and Presidential Management Staff chief Silvestre Afable Jr.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell had announced in an official communication dated Aug. 9 the designation of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army (CPP/NPA) as a "foreign terrorist organization under the US law."
"I made this decision in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury after an exhaustive review of this group's violent activities," said Powell, who recently visited the Philippines and met with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
According to Powell, the CPP-NPA has not only opposed the presence of US troops in the country but has killed American citizens, aside from assassinating, wounding, and kidnaping numerous Filipinos, including government officials.
In effect, the US government and its allies, which include the Philippines, will impose stringent measures against the CPP-NPA to block the transfer of assets, support, or resources by the communist group and its foreign supporters.
The US government, which has been leading a global fight against international terrorism, has named at least 34 foreign terrorist organizations worldwide to alert other countries of the threat of potential terrorist attacks similar to the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the US.
"I also hope it will encourage those governments to take action, as we have, to isolate these terrorist organizations, to choke off their sources of financial support, and to prevent their movement across international borders," Powell said.
34th in list
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has formally designated the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), making it the 34th in the American government's list.
Former senator Francisco Tatad expressed apprehension over the implication of Powell's designation for the impending resumption of formal peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) set next month.
Tatad said it would be "the Philippine government shoulf take a closer look on this matter. There must be a response from the Philippine government," said Tatad, who was guest speaker at the weekly Kapihan sa Sulo forum in Quezon City.
The former lawmaker also urged the President to convene the National Security Council (NSC) "so show that her (Arroyo) government is really working."
In a statement dated Aug. 9 issued by the office of Powell's spokeman, the US state secretary said the designation of CPP-NPA as an FTO is "another important step" in the US government's "continuing efforts to combat global terrorism. …