The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) belied claims made by defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro it was the Left that sought a dialogue with the Government of the Republic of Philippines (GRP) for a possible resumption of formal negotiations.
The NDFP also said insinuations that it is now willing to surrender is “simply untrue.”
“It was the GRP who first approached the NDFP and not the other way around,” the revolutionary alliance said in a statement published on their website.
“Teodoro sings out of tune compared to what his colleagues in the GRP delegation is saying as well as what was agreed by both Parties in the joint statement signed last November 23,” it added.
In a television interview last Friday, Teodoro said there are no formal negotiations yet with the NDFP, adding that as he understood it, “[T]here was a request by the NDF to a (GRP) negotiator that they were willing to give up the armed struggle.”
“[W]e have to see first what the conditions are for talks to continue,” Teodoro said.
The defense secretary who earlier said he is against the resumption of formal peace negotiations with the NDFP added that counter-insurgency activities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict against the Left will continue.
The NDFP however said Teodoro’s claims and insinuations are “head-scratching” and “out of tune” with the spirit of the November 23 Oslo Joint Statement issued by both parties and witnessed by representatives of the Royal Norwegian Government.
“We ask the GRP to focus their efforts instead on the substantive agenda items of the negotiations. Before proceeding to any conversation about the cessation of hostilities, we urge the GRP to go back to the negotiating table and discuss first the remaining substantive agenda items under the Hague Joint Declaration,” the NDFP said in its rebuttal.
This means discussing the draft Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms which primarily addresses the root causes of civil war, the group added.
“The NDFP reiterates that the point of entering peace negotiations is not to arrive at capitulation, but to create a space conducive to discuss mutually acceptable and principled ways of achieving just and lasting peace,” it said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)