Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) President Rodrigo Duterte announced his decision to withdraw from their peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Duterte reportedly said he is ordering GRP negotiating panel members “to fold up the tents and come home” in a press conference in Davao City last Saturday.
“Peace talks will remain cancelled unless there is a compelling reason that will benefit the interest of the nation,” the president was also quoted as saying.
The announcement came after the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (NPA) announced last week its decision to end its unilateral ceasefire.
NPA spokesperson Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos cited Duterte’s failure to amnesty hundreds of political prisoners and the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) numerous violations of GRP’s own unilateral ceasefire for their decision.
Within a day, Duterte announced GRP’s own suspension of their unilateral ceasefire, followed by his decision to withdraw from the peace talks after just two days.
The turn of events was set off when 39th Infantry Battalion troopers overran an NPA encampment in Makilala, North Cotabato while the GRP and the NDFP were in the middle of their third round of formal negotiations in Rome, Italy last January 21.
An NPA guerilla was killed in the incident. The AFP has lost at least three soldiers since the clashes started last month that ended the longest-ever ceasefire between the two parties.
Two GRP panel members declined to comment as they have yet to be officially notified by Duterte.
The NDFP has yet to issue a statement on Duterte’s latest announcements. (Raymund B. Villanueva)