National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili accused the Rodrigo Duterte government of wanting to end the peace negotiations after Malacañan cancelled the scheduled backchannel talks in Europe this weekend.
“The GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) seems so eager to terminate the peace negotiations even using the flimsiest of all excuses to cancel the backchannel talks,” Agcaoili said in a statement.
Agcaoili was reacting to Malacañan’s announcement yesterday cancelling the informal talks to resume formal peace negotiations citing as reason three separate incidents in North Cotatabo, Palawan and Surigao del Sur Wednesday reportedly involving the New People’s Army (NPA).
Sources told Kodao NDFP peace negotiators were about to fly to Oslo, Norway when informed of the cancellation.
“The situation on the ground necessary to provide the desired enabling environment for the conduct of peace negotiations are still not present up to his time,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said yesterday.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella for his part said the order to cancel the backchannel talks came directly from Duterte.
Agcaoili, however, reminded the GRP there is no ceasefire in place and clashes between the NPA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are expected.
“The NDFP did not cancel the talks despite the killing of six NPA fighters and two civilians in Campostela Valley last 12 July and the massacre of a family in the same province a few days later,” Agcaoili said.
Agcaoili also accused the GRP of blatantly violating the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) when Solicitor General Jose Calida said Thursday he would ask for the cancellation of bail bonds and seek the arrest of NDFP consultants released last year for the peace talks.
“OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) will ask the courts to cancel all bail bonds of NDF Consultants, order their arrests, and recommit them to their detention facilities,” Calida said in his Twitter account.
“If the GRP is so determined to terminate the negotiations, it can avail of the pertinent provision in the JASIG to do so, and not engage in subterfuge and threats in an attempt to force the NDFP to capitulate to its demands,” Agcaoili retorted.
Agcaoili said the NDFP will not sign a ceasefire agreement with the GRP ahead of substantive agreements on social and economic as well as constitutional and political reforms.
“There cannot be any ceasefire without agreements on reforms! This is a matter of fact and of principle,” Agcaoili said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)