President Rodrigo Duterte dissolved the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Negotiating Panel with the Left led by Department of Labor and Employment secretary Silvestre H. Bello III.
Along with Bello, panel members Hernani Braganza, Atty. Angela Librado-Trinidad, Atty. Rene Sarmiento and Atty. Antonio Arellano were terminated as of Monday, March 18.
In a statement, Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said their termination will pave the way for the creation of a new panel that will focus on the so-called localized peace engagements.
“The discontinuance of the services of the members of the GRP panel is in line with the termination of peace talks with the [National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)],” Galvez said.
Galvez added they will reconstitute the panel that will implement the government’s whole-of-nation approach.
He said that Duterte has also ordered the review of past agreements with the NDFP.
During the National Peace and Order Council meeting four days earlier in Davao City, Duterte announced he will reconstitute the panel.
“I will reconstitute the panel. This time, it will have a military and police component. And civilians, mga professor,” Duterte said last March 14.
Duterte has ordered the termination of the negotiations through Proclamation 360 in November 2017.
NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said they have anticipated the GRP’s move as Duterte has no interest in the peace negotiations.
“He has always schemed to use the armed conflict as an excuse for carrying out martial law nationwide and for railroading charter change to a bogus kind of federalism in order to realize and impose fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people,” Sison said.
Sison said the Duterte regime has completely ignored the consistent NDFP policy of openness to peace negotiations “because of his obsession to establish a fascist dictatorship and his pipe dream of destroying the people’s revolutionary movement by military means.”
Sison added it is totally Duterte’s responsibility that he gives no choice to the people’s revolutionary movement but to single-mindedly wage and intensify all forms of struggle.
NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili for his part said it is Duterte’s prerogative to choose his negotiators.
Agcaoili, however, expressed his wish that new GRP negotiators are committed to addressing the roots of the armed conflict.
“The GRP should be wise enough to choose those who are willing or committed to address the roots of the armed conflict in order to attain a just and lasting peace as Sec. Bello has shown in the long years that he has been a consultant, member and then chairperson of the GRP panel since 1994,” Agcaoli said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)