Leaders of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panel took turns lambasting new Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, calling him “amnesiac,” “befuddled,” and, worse, “cheap shyster.”
Reacting from Panelo’s challenge to NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison to “walk the talk” and support President Rodrigo Duterte’s “call for conciliation and peace,” the Left’s chief peace negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said the new Malacañan mouthpiece conveniently suffers from amnesia.
Agcaoili reminded Panelo it was Duterte who terminated the peace negotiations four times since May 2017 and foiled every attempt to resume these through back channel talks.
“At any rate, during the third termination in November 2017, President Duterte issued Proclamation 360, ending the peace negotiations,” Agcaoili said.
Duterte has not revoked his proclamation even after committees under the NDFP and Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) negotiators worked out a number of “unprecedented agreements” on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development and National Industrialization and Economic Development, which constitute the bedrock sections of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).
Also hammered out was an Amnesty Proclamation for all NDFP-listed political prisoners to be signed and certified by President Duterte as urgent to obtain the concurrence of Congress in order to effect their expeditious release.
Agcaoili added there was an agreement for a Coordinated Unilateral Ceasefire (CUC) which would have taken effect upon signing by the Negotiating Panels.
The CUC was conceptualized to evolve into a bilateral ceasefire.
“Together, these three agreements would have constituted the Interim Peace Agreement to be signed at the scheduled resumption of formal talks in Oslo last June 28 to 30,” Agcaoili said.
“Never have the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations advanced to this level. But for his own vile reasons, President Duterte has chosen to terminate the talks right at the brink of all these breakthroughs,” he added.
The NDFP chief negotiator said Duterte wasted time and squandered efforts by both NDFP and GRP negotiators, not to mention the lives that could have been saved on both sides of the armed conflict.
Agcaoili paid little significance to Duterte’s latest speech in Davao City that “merely mentioned surrender talks, and enticements to individual NPA guerrillas who capitulate.”
“Nowhere does he mention the meaningful reforms that should be in place to address the roots of the armed conflict,” he said.
Who is committing crimes?
In a statement issued over the weekend, Panelo also said the Duterte government cannot sit with Communist leaders in the same negotiating table while the latter’s armed comrades continue fighting.
“These include the ambushing of our armed forces and innocent civilians while enforcing their so-called revolutionary taxes and destroying the properties of individuals or entities who refuse to give in to their orders,” Panelo said.
Agcaoili replied that contrary to Panelo’s lies, it is the government that are “fraudulently committing criminal acts and bringing harm to our people.”
He cited the massacre of nine farm workers in Sagay City, Negoris Occidental last Saturday as a worsening of “the festering social problems that feed the fires of armed conflict.”
“As a testament to the utter failure of the GRP to effect social justice, the land remains undistributed 18 years after the sugar workers first petitioned the DAR for the estate to be placed under land reform coverage,” he said.
Sison for his part said Panelo exposed himself as “a cheap shyster who engages in outright lying and shouting in a futile attempt to deny or cast doubt on the truth of the Duterte-style massacre of the nine in Sagay.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)