Despite his repeated orders to wipe out the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), President Rodrigo Duterte said he is still open to reviving peace negotiations with the Left.
Duterte again changed tone and told Cabinet members and other officials in Bicol Friday some communication lines are still open for the revival of peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Duterte said he cannot afford to completely close communication lines with the Left.
“I’d like you to know we are keeping the fire burning and hindi pwedeng sarahan. You cannot afford to lose all channels of communication. Mag-iwan ka talaga maski maliit,” he said.
Duterte’s latest turnaround came after the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its founding chairman Jose Maria Sison announced that the revolutionary movement will prioritize his ouster starting this year.
An increasingly quarrelsome Duterte repeatedly cancelled formal rounds of peace negotiations with the NDFP since middle of 2017 despite successful efforts by both the NDFP and government peace panels to forge social and economic reform as well as ceasefire agreements.
He issued Proclamation No. 360 on November 23, 2017 terminating the peace negotiations and followed it up with Proclamation No. 374 on December 5, 2017 designating the CPP and the New People’s Army (NPA) as ¨terrorist¨ organizations.
Sison said the two proclamations are aimed at putting up permanent walls against peace negotiations.
Two key Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) peace negotiators have since resigned.
Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza resigned for “failing to curb corruption” at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process while GRP ceasefire committee chairperson Francisco Lara left over “additional preconditions” for the resumption of formal negotiations that “torpedoed” certain aspects of the peace talks.
Meanwhile, the NDFP has consistently said it is open to any sincere peace negotiations, even with the “tyrant” Duterte.
Welcome Duterte statement
NDFP chief political consultant Sison said he welcomes Duterte’s latest turnaround.
“Enemies need peace negotiations before they can become friends or partners for the sake of the Filipino people who desire social, economic and political reforms as basis for a just and lasting peace,” Sison said in a statement issued a few hours after Duterte’s statement.
“I welcome the statement of Duterte that he is still open to peace negotiations even as there is still an exchange of hostile words in the mass media and exchange of bullets in the battlefield,” he said.
Sison explained it is the consistent policy of the NDFP to be open to peace negotiations with the Duterte regime despite their determination to seek the ouster of his regime.
“It is for the benefit of the people that the peace negotiations resume and stop the Duterte regime from proclaiming martial law nationwide, from calling off or rigging the May 2019 elections and from pursuing the scheme to impose a fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people via charter change for a bogus kind of federalism,” Sison said.
Sison added the NDFP presumes that, when peace negotiations resume, the way is open to the forging of agreements on social, economic and political reforms “desired and needed by the people.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)