Jose Maria Sison clarified that he did not terminate the peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), saying it is only their group’s National Council that can make the decision to suspend, cancel or terminate their peace negotiations with the government.
“[The NDFP] has not yet made such a decision,” Sison said in a statement Friday, June 29.
Reacting to news reports that he has cancelled or terminated the peace negotiations, Sison said that he only made a critical review of GRP President Rodrigo Duterte’s behaviour in relation to the stalled peace negotiations.
“I deplored among other things his failure to fulfil his promise to amnesty and release all political prisoners and his repeated whimsical termination of the negotiations as many as three times. It is very likely that he will convert his three-month suspension of the formal talks to one more termination,” Sison said.
In his presentation to a forum entitled “Political implications of the current impasse and prospects of the GRP-NDFP peace talks Thursday, Sison said that based on the implications drawn from the current impasse, the NDFP can no longer negotiate with a GRP that is headed by Duterte.
“So long as he heads the GRP, the Filipino people, especially the oppressed and exploited, cannot expect any benefit from negotiating with the Duterte regime,” Sison, speaking via online streaming from The Netherlands, said.
In his clarification issued Friday, Sison said he made the estimate that Duterte will render the resumption of formal negotiations impossible by imposing on the NDFP the demand that the venue be shifted to Manila.
“The NDFP will not agree to such a demand because it violates the JASIG (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees) provision for a neutral venue abroad and because NDFP does not want to put its negotiating panel and related personnel under the control, surveillance and duress by Duterte and the military,” Sison said.
Sison added he let Duterte have the singular dishonor of repeatedly terminating the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations within so short a time, repeatedly pointing out that Duterte is not interested in the peace negotiations but in scapegoating the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) and NPA (New People’s Army) for the purpose of declaring martial law nationwide or a state of emergency “in his mad drive to establish a fascist dictatorship under the guise of charter change to federalism.”
“In this regard, I have observed that it would be easier to cause the ouster of Duterte than to expect a just and honorable peace agreement with GRP under his command,” Sison explained.
Sison earlier said that while NDFP is not completely closing the door on the peace negotiations, the NDFP will study very carefully any offer by the government to resume formal peace negotiations.
‘Let Duterte do it’
In the said forum, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said their group has always readied itself for any breakdown in the talks.
“It’s nearing untenable stratus,” Agcaoili, also speaking via online streaming, said, citing the Duterte government’s new measures like the crackdown on street loiterers and continuing killings linked to its drug war.
Acaoili also said Duterte’s incendiary remarks, the arrests and killings of activists and threats against churches and human rights groups are meant to provoke rebel forces.
Agcaoili said Duterte should be the one to finally terminate formal peace negotiations with the NDFP.
“Siya mag-terminate,” Agcaoili said. (Let [Duterte] terminate.)
“Any side can move to terminate. But if we walk first, he will use it as an excuse to unleash his fascist dictatorship,” he added.
Agcaoili said the revolutionary forces must not let down its guard against Duterte.
“Revolutionary and progressive forces must exercise vigilance and be committed to act in self-defense, especially forces in the underground,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)