The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said it would welcome Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) envoys if President Rodrigo Duterte sends them to Europe to try to revive the stalled peace talks between the parties.
Reacting to Duterte’s statement that he is sending labor secretary Silvestre Bello in a “last bid” to resume the negotiations, NDFP leaders said they will welcome Bello when he arrives.
“If Duterte wants to talk and takes the concrete steps about it, the NDFP has to consider seriously what he proposes. The NDFP has to be open to any possibility for the benefit of the Filipino people,” NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison told Kodao.
NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili for his part told Kodao he welcomes the “desire of the GRP to resume peace negotiations” and that they “await the arrival of Sec. Bello and his team.”
In a situation briefing on the GRP’s response to Typhoon Tisoy in the Bicol Region last Thursday, December 5, Duterte said he is sending Bello to the Netherlands where the NDFP negotiators are based.
“He (Bello) should go there, talk to them. I cannot talk about it. Basta I’m sending him back to Sison and talk to him,” Duterte said.
Duterte dissolved his government’s peace panel last March 18, firing Bello and fellow negotiators Hernani Braganza, Atty. Angela Librado-Trinidad, Atty. Rene Sarmiento and Atty. Antonio Arellano.
The GRP panel’s dissolution followed the replacement of Atty. Jesus Dureza as presidential peace adviser with retired army general Carlito Galvez and the intense implementation of Duterte’s counter-insurgency policy, highlighted by the successive arrests of NDFP peace consultants.
On November 23, 2017, Duterte signed Proclamation No. 360 declaring the termination of peace negotiations with the NDFP, followed closely by his signing on Dec. 5, 2017 of Proclamation 374 classifying NDFP allied organizations Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army as “terrorist organizations.”
In December 2018, Duterte signed Executive Order No. 70 directing the creation of a national task force to “end local communist armed conflict.”
On Dec. 5, 2017, the Chief Executive signed Proclamation 374, classifying the CPP and NPA as terror organizations because of the crimes they supposedly committed “against the Filipino people, against humanity, and against the law of the nations.”
The NDFP for its part has always blamed Duterte for the termination of formal negotiations, claiming it has always been open to “sincere efforts” to resume negotiations.
Sison clarified that the NDFP has never said that it will never talk to GRP under Duterte even after his termination of the peace talks.
“The NDFP has never said that it will never talk to GRP under Duterte even after his termination of the peace talks,” Sison told Kodao.
Duterte said Thursday his decision to send Bello to Europe is his last ditch attempt to forge a peace deal with the NDFP.
“This is my last card. When I say my last card, my time is running out,” Duterte said.
He added that he is not reopening talks with the NDFP for the sake of the military or the police, “but for everybody.”
“The doors must be open always or there must be at least one channel if everything closes through which you can talk,” he said.
Duterte’s latest turnaround followed a statement made by Sison that he hopes Duterte may soon be “enlightened”.
“May Duterte be hit by lightning, like Saul on his way to Damascus. It could be the lightning of enlightenment,” Sison told Kodao in a recent exclusive interview published Wednesday, December 4. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)