THE prospect is “bright” for the ongoing peace talks between the government of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) with Benito Tiamzon asserting his authority as chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and taking responsibility for the negotiations.
This was the “assessment” of one of the country’s respected military intelligence officers who has been “monitoring” the internal goings on in the underground movement for many years now.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source also confirmed that the “retirement” of former NDFP chief negotiator, Luis Jalandoni, and his replacement by Fidel Agcaoili, is one way by which Tiamzon has asserted his leading role in the party.
Citing his age, Jalandoni, 81, and chair of the NDFP peace panel since 1995, said he is “retiring” from his post and would be replaced by Agcaoili, the panel’s vice chairman. The changes were announced by the NDFP on the eve of the second round of the peace talks last October 6 held in Oslo, Norway.
In August, after being granted bail by the court, Tiamzon and his wife, Wilma, CPP secretary, flew to Norway together with other previously detained rebel leaders to join the first round of the peace talks previously dominated by Jalandoni and CPP founder, Prof. Jose Maria Sison.
“The changes (in the NDFP panel) were not ‘ordinary’ as it is actually Tiamzon showing to everyone who is the ‘real’ boss of the party and the entire revolutionary movement,” the source explained.
“With the Tiamzons now at the helms of the negotiations, there is room for hope that the talks would succeed,” the source opined.
“Previously, the talks always failed because there are ‘spoilers’ within the party led by the majority group headed by the Tiamzons as they always felt being ‘left out’ in the discussions.
“But now that they are the ones doing the talking and the ‘faction’ of Sison ‘marginalized,’ the decision making is not going to be difficult anymore.
“Take note that even in the countryside, the New People’s Army (NPA) are honoring the ceasefire especially in Mindanao, which is the bastion of the Tiamzons,” the source explained further.
Tiamzon was elected CPP chairman during a congress held somewhere in Quezon province in the middle ’90s. His efforts have been credited for the CPP-NPA’s continued growth since then that made the group still the “main threat” to the country’s national security.
The source noted that the frequent pronouncements of Sison as regards the CPP and its affairs have been the source of “disagreements” and “irritation” between his group living in exile abroad and the group of Tiamzon based here.