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Capture Of Communists Destroys Opportunity For Peace

July 31, 1989

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Two prominent communists captured last week were in the capital to promote new negotiations with the government but their arrest ″destroys any opportunity for peace,″ rebels said Sunday.

Satur Ocampo, suspected chairman of the National Democratic Front, and his common-law wife, Carolina ″Bobbie″ Malay, were arrested Thursday while driving along a residential street in suburban Makati. President Corazon Aquino’s government said their capture was a major setback to the rebels.

In a statement to news organizations Sunday, the Front said: ″The arrest of Satur and Bobbie comes at a time when the NDF is offering a serious and bold proposal to the Aquino regime and to the nation.″

The Front referred to an offer to resume peace talks to end the 20-year-old insurgency if Mrs. Aquino agrees to close the six U.S. military bases here in 1991.

″Despite great risks to their security, these two comrades left the revolutionary bases in the countryside and went to the capital to work on the NDF proposal,″ the statement said.

The rebels said the government had disregarded the peace offer and ″its eagerness to show off a prize catch to please its imperialist master (the United States) overrides any concern for peace and destroys any opportunity for peace.″

The statement was signed by renegade rebel Antonio Zumel, who, along with Ocampo and Ms. Malay, negotiated on behalf of the insurgents during peace talks that broke down in January 1987. Ocampo, Ms. Malay and other rebel leaders went underground in February of that year after a two-month cease-fire expired.

The Front is a coalition of 12 Marxist groups, including the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New Peoples Army. The military has said Ocampo served on the party’s central committee and its politburo.

Mrs. Aquino has refused to enter new peace talks unless the rebels first agree to lay down their weapons. Last week, she said the government had not received any formal offer from the Front to resume peace talks.

Mrs. Aquino has refused to say whether she will support extending the lease on U.S. military bases after it expires in 1991. She is expected to visit the United States later this year for preliminary discussions on a new base treaty.

A treaty must be approved by two-thirds of the 23-member Philippine Senate, where opposition to the installations is strong.

In its statement, the Front praised the Ocampos for their ″courage and steadfastness in the hands of the enemy″ and urged them to continue promoting the rebels’ peace proposal in prison.

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