Joma frustrated with Duterte’s postponement of talks

While National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili was diplomatic in expressing his disappointment, Jose Maria Sison expressed outright frustration over President Rodrigo Duterte’s postponement of the resumption of formal talks.

READ: Duterte postpones resumption of formal GRP-NDFP talks

In a statement after the Government of the Republic of the Philippines’s (GRP) Thursday, Sison said it is both disappointing and frustrating Duterte has unilaterally cancelled the scheduled start of the stand-down ceasefire on June 21 and the resumption of formal talks in the peace negotiations in Oslo a week later on June 28.

“The written agreements pertaining to the aforesaid scheduled events have been signed by no less than the respective chairpersons of the GRP and the NDFP negotiating panels, DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) Secretary Silvestre Bello and Fidel V. Agcaoili, and witnessed by the Royal Norwegian special envoy Ambasador Idun Tevdt on June 9,” Sison said.

In a press briefing in Malacañan Thursday, Dureza said the initial timeline both parties worked on had to be “necessarily adjusted” after Duterte instructed to government panel to “engage the bigger peace table, the general public.”

“Our peace efforts to succeed should have good support from the general public. Hence, it is necessary that all efforts must be exerted first to inform then engage them in the same way that the government engages the rebels in addressing the root causes of conflict,” Dureza explained.

Dureza’s announcement came after Duterte has said in his Independence Day speech last June 12 the talks shall happen sometime in mid-July, which Agcaoili suspects the GRP President has already decided upon even before meeting the GRP peace panel Wednesday.

In light of Duterte’s order to his negotiators to consult the wider public, Sison challenged the NDFP and GRP panels to divulge the results of four backchannel talks since March.

“I urge the two negotiating panels to release to the public and to the press the written and signed agreements of June 9 and 10 signed by the chairmen of the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels and by the members of their respective special teams,” he said.

Sison said the President’s unilateral decision makes it starkly clear that the GRP under Duterte is not interested in serious peace negotiations with the NDFP

“It is interested vainly in obtaining the NDFP capitulation under the guise of an indefinite ceasefire agreements and breaking the provision in the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on the Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) which requires formal negotiations in a foreign neutral venue and therefore putting the negotiations under the control and under duress of an emerging fascist dictatorship and its armed minions,” Sison said.

“Because the GRP under Duterte is obviously not interested in serious peace negotiations, the revolutionary forces and the people have no choice but to single-mindedly wage people’s war to achieve the national and social liberation of the Filipino people,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)