Duterte hints talks may still be ‘resuscitated’

President Rodrigo Duterte again hinted the peace negotiations he terminated with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) may still be “resuscitated.”

Speaking at the 84th Anniversary of the Department of Labor and Employment headed by Secretary Silvestre Bello III in Bulacan Friday, Duterte said the chairperson of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) negotiating panel with the NDFP “and company can always resuscitate it at some other time.”

Duterte said businesses and the military asked him to stop the peace negotiations with the NDFP because of the New People’s Army’s (NPA) revolutionary taxation and attacks against government soldiers.

Sabi ng mga negosyante at mga sundalo, ‘Mayor, ‘wag mo kaming pigilan diyan kasi nauubos na kami.’ So I have to stop the talks,” Duterte said.

“So itong mga Left, mga kausap ni Bebot, they have to agree to stop imposing revolutionary tax. We can subsidize the talks and even the billeting. Ako na ang gagastos, but you [NPA] have to stop [from imposing],” he added.

Duterte said he ordered Bello and the GRP Panel to take a breather to “give time for things to cool [down] with the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines).”

“Let’s [again] start to talk, [but] let’s start by raising the level to walang atake. Absolutely,” Duterte said.

Duterte added things actually started with “slight insults” which he could not allow.

E di (curse), tuluyan na natin…The best way there is just to keep silent,” he said.

Duterte’s ‘rampage of killings’

The NDFP however said it is Duterte’s “rampage of killings” along with his declaration of the CPP and the NPA as terrorists that closed the door to the peace negotiations.

In an online forum with peace advocates in Quezon City, NDFP senior adviser and former chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni said that while their side is always willing to negotiate with any GRP that is serious in addressing the root causes of the armed conflict, Duterte does not appear to do so anymore.

“The question now is, is there still hope for the peace talks with the Duterte regime? According to [NDFP] chief political consultant [Jose Maria Sison], wala,” Jalandoni said.

Aside from tagging the CPP and NPA as terrorists, Duterte also ordered that all NDFP consultants released for the negotiations are to be arrested and that the so-called legal fronts of the CPP shall be attacked and harassed, Jalandoni added.

Jalandoni said events in the last few days has shown that the Duterte regime is on a rampage of killings, citing the killings of two human rights defenders in Negros Oriental, Pastor Lovelito Quiñones in Oriental Mindoro, Fr. Marcelito Paez in Nueva Ecija, Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao’s staff member in Davao City, and the massacre of eight Lumad in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

Jalandoni also cited the arrest of transport leader George San Mateo and the forced evacuation and food blockade of more than a thousand Lumad in Surigao del Sur.

“All these follow the many thousands killed by Duterte’s war against drugs,” Jalandoni said.

Jalandoni said the Filipino people love the NPA for its health and health services in the countryside, as well as its land reform and defense of communities against attacks by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and paramilitary forces.

“The truth is, it is Duterte who is a terrorist. He has become a fascist, a tyrant against the people,” Jalandoni said.

Jalandoni warned of massive, strong and militant protests against the killings under the Duterte government.

“As in the days under (President Ferdinand) Marcos, ultimately, it will be the people who will decide,” Jalandoni said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)