Defense chief: Joma's so-called army no longer listens to him

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 15) —  Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana sneered at National Democractic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Chairman Jose Maria Sison for saying on Thursday that communist rebels have "no choice but to single-mindedly wage people's war" against the government following the postponement of peace talks.

"Your so-called army no longer listens to you," said Lorenzana in a message addressed to Sison on Friday.

"They are sick and tired of your lies and rhetoric, and are in fact heeding the call of President Duterte to come down and live peaceful lives and they are doing just that."

Lorenzana said communist rebels have been surrendering in droves since November 2017.

"So you think you can force the government to the peace table by waging war? Dont understimate President Duterte," he added.

The Defense Secretary said Sison is acting like a spoiled brat who goes into tantrums and orders the National People's Army to wage a war. Lorenzana said the exiled communist leader's "ego is robbing many of Filipinos, whom he has misled all these years, of what could be their best chance ever to rejoin their families and live productive lives.

READ: Communist party slams government for suspending talks again

Fidel Agcoili, NDFP peace panel chairperson, echoed Sison's statement. "For one side to take unilateral decisions to disregard agreements is a sure way of derailing or sabotaging the gains achieved if not to totally cancel the talks," he said.

The communist panel is waiting for the government team that is due to arrive in the Netherlands on Sunday to give a more elaborate explanation of why the decision was made.

In the meantime, the peace talks hang in the balance.

Representatives of the government and the rebels had been holding back channel discussions about going back to the negotiating table, after Duterte walked away from the talks in November 2017. The President ended the on-and-off negotiations with Communist rebels as both sides accused each other of violating their ceasefire agreement.

The Duterte administration is the sixth to hold peace talks with the NDF, political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been waging nearly five decades of insurgency against the government.