A National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiator urged President Rodrigo Duterte to resume formal peace negotiations if he wants to end civil war in the country.
In an interview, NDFP consultant Allan Jazmines said revolutionary groups would not agree to an open-ended bilateral ceasefire with the Duterte government unless it signs agreements on substantial reforms to benefit the Filipino people.
“If the peace talks resume and would be accelerated, it would end the civil war faster. Peace would happen after social and economic as well as political and constitutional reforms are signed and implemented,” Jazmines said.
Jazmines added that Duterte would only cause more trouble on his administrations if he pushes through with his threat to go after the New People’s Army (NPA) after the Marawi crisis is over.
“He is talking nonsense. The NPA is stronger, the revolution is stronger,” Jazmines said.
Duterte cancelled the fifth round of formal negotiations with the NDFP in The Netherlands last May after failing to force the Left into an open-ended bilateral ceasefire agreement.
Jazmines said NDFP and Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) negotiators were very close to signing Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD) agreements before the cancellation.
The veteran negotiator said the GRP has already committed to distributing one million hectares over five years for free, which would include both public lands and property under private ownership.
“The parties are very close to inking the ARRD under the social and economic reforms agenda of the negotiations. For the first time, our farmers have hope. The details have already been threshed out. Duterte would be wasting all the hard work if he does not go back to the negotiating table,” Jazmines said.
Jazmines said such gains from the peace talks show the sincerity of the revolutionary forces in the negotiations.
The NPA would not fall into the trap of extended ceasefires without substantial reforms, he added.
“If the NPA and other revolutionary forces surrender or capitulate as Duterte wants, then goodbye to reforms the Filipino people demand. That is why we will never do it,” Jazmines said.
“Duterte should not allow himself to be influenced by the enemies of genuine social reforms. The military and the United States of America are pressuring him to choose war over the peace talks,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)