The Information Bureau of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said President Rodrigo Duterte is bent on completely shutting down the peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).
Reacting to a statement issued by presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza Thursday (June 5), the CPP said the government’s claims that the doors for resuming peace talks with the NDFP are still open is an outright lie.
“[T]he GRP has repeatedly terminated the talks and make it appear that it is the NDFP which closed its doors,” the CPP said.
In a statement, Dureza said that while the doors for the resumption of the peace talks are still open, it is subject to the following wishes of the President:
- There will be no coalition government,
- There will be a stop in the collection of the so-called revolutionary tax,
- The venue of the talks will be local,
- There will be a ceasefire agreement in which armed NPA (New People’s Army) members are encamped in designated areas.
Dureza added the government may pursue localized peace arrangements.
“This ‘way forward’ in the stalled peace talks was decided following the consolidation of various positions expressed during the command conference convened by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte last night in Malacañang,” Dureza said.
The CPP, however said, that by demanding that future talks should be held in a local venue, Duterte is driving another nail to completely shut down the NDFP-GRP peace talks.
“He (Duterte) knows fully well that the demand to hold talks in the Philippines is unacceptable and unworkable for the NDFP, unless he thinks the NDFP will be negotiating only to surrender the Filipino people’s aspirations and give up all its revolutionary principles,” the CPP said.
The underground party added that by completely shutting the door to the negotiations, Duterte is laying down the conditions for imposing martial law or a general crackdown, use the terror proscription against the CPP and NPA against his critics and dissenters against his tyranny, and push charter change for pseudo-federalism to perpetuate himself in power.
The CPP also pointed out that Dureza’s statement did not mention the fact that Duterte issued Presidential Proclamation No. 360 last November 23, 2017 that formally terminated peace negotiations with the NDFP.
Duterte’s proclamation has never been rescinded, the CPP said.
Duterte also derailed efforts to resume talks by cancelling its scheduled resumption last June 28, it added.
Dureza’s statement was reiterated by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in a press briefing in Malacañan Thursday morning.
Roque told reporters that Duterte is still open to the talks, provided his preconditions that the talks are held in the Philippines and that the NPA encamp are met.
Roque also revealed that the government is planning to come out with its so-called guidelines on localized peace talks.
“If the CPP-NPA would agree to these demands, the talks may still continue,” Roque said.
The Philippine Peace Center (PPC), however said Duterte’s preconditions “show utter ignorance, if not highhanded arrogance, in the conduct of peace negotiations,” adding such preconditions poison the atmosphere and is contrary to any serious, honest-to-goodness negotiation.
“To impose such preconditions on the NDFP is tantamount to demanding its capitulation or surrender, and therefore unacceptable,” PPC executive director Rey Claro Casambre said.
Casambre said that Duterte’s preconditions are absurd because they ignore that both sides have agreed to resolve the armed conflict through peaceful negotiations, with neither one imposing its will or its demands over the other across the negotiating table.
Casambre added that Duterte’s new preconditions violate GRP’s own set of principles and guidelines governing its position and conduct in the peace negotiations.
Quoting Executive Order (EO) 125 by the Fidel Ramos administration and EO 3 by the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo government, Casambre said the GRP has committed to “[a] comprehensive peace process seeks a principled and peaceful resolution to the internal armed conflicts, with neither blame nor surrender, but with dignity for all concerned.”
Casambre advised the GRP to get its act together, saying government officials commenting on the peace talks should learn the basics as well as the nuances from the more knowledgeable and hands-on Office of the Presidential Peace Adviser on the Peace Process and the GRP Panel.
“The result of all these ignorance and arrogance is that not only the GRP but the entire Filipino people are being deprived a useful venue for addressing and resolving the roots of the armed conflict,” Casambre added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)