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Duterte hints talks may still be ‘resuscitated’

President Rodrigo Duterte again hinted the peace negotiations he terminated with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) may still be “resuscitated.”

Speaking at the 84th Anniversary of the Department of Labor and Employment headed by Secretary Silvestre Bello III in Bulacan Friday, Duterte said the chairperson of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) negotiating panel with the NDFP “and company can always resuscitate it at some other time.”

Duterte said businesses and the military asked him to stop the peace negotiations with the NDFP because of the New People’s Army’s (NPA) revolutionary taxation and attacks against government soldiers.

Sabi ng mga negosyante at mga sundalo, ‘Mayor, ‘wag mo kaming pigilan diyan kasi nauubos na kami.’ So I have to stop the talks,” Duterte said.

“So itong mga Left, mga kausap ni Bebot, they have to agree to stop imposing revolutionary tax. We can subsidize the talks and even the billeting. Ako na ang gagastos, but you [NPA] have to stop [from imposing],” he added.

Duterte said he ordered Bello and the GRP Panel to take a breather to “give time for things to cool [down] with the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines).”

“Let’s [again] start to talk, [but] let’s start by raising the level to walang atake. Absolutely,” Duterte said.

Duterte added things actually started with “slight insults” which he could not allow.

E di (curse), tuluyan na natin…The best way there is just to keep silent,” he said.

Duterte’s ‘rampage of killings’

The NDFP however said it is Duterte’s “rampage of killings” along with his declaration of the CPP and the NPA as terrorists that closed the door to the peace negotiations.

In an online forum with peace advocates in Quezon City, NDFP senior adviser and former chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni said that while their side is always willing to negotiate with any GRP that is serious in addressing the root causes of the armed conflict, Duterte does not appear to do so anymore.

“The question now is, is there still hope for the peace talks with the Duterte regime? According to [NDFP] chief political consultant [Jose Maria Sison], wala,” Jalandoni said.

Aside from tagging the CPP and NPA as terrorists, Duterte also ordered that all NDFP consultants released for the negotiations are to be arrested and that the so-called legal fronts of the CPP shall be attacked and harassed, Jalandoni added.

Jalandoni said events in the last few days has shown that the Duterte regime is on a rampage of killings, citing the killings of two human rights defenders in Negros Oriental, Pastor Lovelito Quiñones in Oriental Mindoro, Fr. Marcelito Paez in Nueva Ecija, Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao’s staff member in Davao City, and the massacre of eight Lumad in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

Jalandoni also cited the arrest of transport leader George San Mateo and the forced evacuation and food blockade of more than a thousand Lumad in Surigao del Sur.

“All these follow the many thousands killed by Duterte’s war against drugs,” Jalandoni said.

Jalandoni said the Filipino people love the NPA for its health and health services in the countryside, as well as its land reform and defense of communities against attacks by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and paramilitary forces.

“The truth is, it is Duterte who is a terrorist. He has become a fascist, a tyrant against the people,” Jalandoni said.

Jalandoni warned of massive, strong and militant protests against the killings under the Duterte government.

“As in the days under (President Ferdinand) Marcos, ultimately, it will be the people who will decide,” Jalandoni said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Peace advocates urge Duterte to return to the negotiating table

An alliance of peace advocates urged President Rodrigo Duterte to return to the negotiating table with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), calling the Government of the Republic of the Philippines’s (GRP) termination of the peace talks “sudden and unjustified.”

Kapayapaan Campaign for a Just and Lasting Peace in a statement also deplored Duterte’s order to re-arrest NDFP peace consultants, threat to tag the NDFP, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as “terrorists” and to arrest legal activists he accused of fronting for the communists.

“These constitute a complete turnaround from his avowed policy of talking peace with the CPP-NPA-NDFP to end close to five decades of armed conflict in the country by negotiating much-needed socio-economic and political reforms,” Kapayapaan said.

Duterte issued Proclamation No. 360 last week terminating his government’s peace negotiations with the NDFP in the middle of “discreet” preparations for the fifth round of formal negotiations in Oslo where agrarian reform, ceasefire and release of political prisoners agreements were expected to be signed.

“Just peace is an overarching concern for millions of Filipinos. This was the basis for the popular support the peace negotiations enjoyed during the initial months of the Duterte administration, when hopes for significant changes became possible with both sides exhibiting openness to resolve the roots of the armed conflict,” Kapayapaan spokespersons Fr. Benjamin Alforque, MSC and Sharon Cabusao said.

The group also decried “grave obstacles” to the peace negotiations, saying military operations in the countryside continue without let up under Duterte’s counter-insurgency and anti-drug campaigns that have reportedly killed thousands.

“The bombing and destruction of Marawi City is also an additional thorn to the peace process, with calls for justice by the affected victims remaining unheeded by the Duterte administration,” the group added.

Meanwhile, amid Duterte’s tirades against the communists, nine communities in Surigao del Sur have again evacuated due to fears brought about by the presence of Philippine Army soldiers in the area.

Start of crackdown against Lumad communities and schools?

Lumad education group Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) reported Monday at least 244 families, 1,102 individuals from nine (9) Lumad communities in Lianga and San Agustin, Surigao del Sur were forced to evacuate to safety when more than 80 military men were spotted near the communities.

The evacuation affected 406 students and 59 teachers of nine Lumad schools who are now staying in another community, TRIFFPS reported.

“Under Duterte’s Martial Law, the situation worsened. Duterte threatened to bomb Lumad schools and communities. This is no different from Aquino’s term where the massacre happened back in September 1, 2015. The Lumad evacuated for a year in Tandag City after the killing of their teacher and leaders by paramilitary forces who accompanied the 75th IBPA in their military operations,” the group said.

The affected communities are located within the Andap Valley Complex targeted for coal mining and are refusing to allow these companies to operate in their ancestral lands, TRIFFPS said.

Coal mining contracts in Andap Valley Comlex have been awarded by the Department of Energy to Benguet Mining Corp., Great Wall Mining and Power Corp., Consolidated Ores Phils. Inc., Abacus Coal Explorations and Development Corp., PNOC, and ASK Mining and Exploration Corp, the group added.

Save Our Schools Network image showing photos of suspected military surveillance agents near the Lumad schoolchildren camp out in Pasig City.

In a related development, Lumad schoolchildren camped out at the Department of Education (DepEd) main office in Pasig City expressed alarmed at the presence of motorcycle-riding men they suspect of conducting surveillance operations against them over the weekend.

Rius Valle, SOS Mindanao Spokesperson, said the harassment is part of harass Duterte’s threats of crackdown against suspected CPP sympathizers.

“If they just want to know what the Lumad students and teachers are fighting for, they only need to talk to us. But what is alarming is they take pictures without our permission while riding in motorcycles without plate numbers and usually with face mask. They wouldn’t do that if they don’t have malicious intentions” Valle said.

“Before, only DepEd security personnel are taking pictures without our permission. Shortly after Duterte’s crackdown threat against suspected CPP allies, men riding in motorcycles without plate numbers are also harassing us,” Valle added.

Sabotaged peace process

Kapayapaan said such actions only sabotage the peace process and hamper confidence and goodwill measures carried out by the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels during the initial months of the Duterte Presidency.

“Such actions are harmful to the people do not and never will constitute a favorable environment for the peace negotiations which the government panel itself has repeatedly tried to set as a precondition for resuming the peace process,” Kapayapaan said.

Kapayapaan added that the reported escalation of armed clashes between government troops and the NPA throughout the country following Duterte’s termination of the peace talks is all the more reason to return to the negotiating table.

“Kapayapaan urges the Duterte administration to return to the peace table and do the hard work of hammering a peace agreement acceptable to both sides and to the Filipino people and avert the prolongation of a civil war fuelled by long-standing social injustice and violations of the people’s democratic rights,” the group said.

Kapayapaan likewise urged the Filipino people “to continue to champion the cause of just and lasting peace, and resist efforts to foster the peace of the graveyard that result from warmongering, saber-rattling and authoritarian rule.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Peace talks a casualty of the Trump-Duterte meeting?

By Arnold Padilla/IBON Features

President Rodrigo Duterte’s hosting as chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and related meetings solidified the sort of foreign policy that his administration will chart throughout its term. It is one that critics have already pointed out as still dependent on the patronage of the big powers and continuously shaped by their interests. The ASEAN events also reminded the public of how the US remains a dominant force in the region, especially in the host country even as China poses a serious challenge.

Scuttled

Pres. Duterte’s face-to-face meetings with US President Donald Trump at the ASEAN events in Manila and bilaterally on its sidelines appear to already have had an impact. Less than a week after his meeting with Trump, the country’s Chief Executive suddenly announced that he planned to classify the New People’s Army (NPA) as a terrorist group. A formal declaration of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-New People’s Army (NPA)-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as terrorist would automatically terminate the peace talks between the two parties. Soon after, he also decided to end “all planned meetings” with the CPP-NPA-NDFP.

 Since August 2002, the CPP-NPA has been on the list of supposed foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) of the US State Department for representing a threat to US national security (i.e., national defense, foreign relations, and economic interests). The US maintains the list as part of its war on terror. An FTO designation, according to the State Department, “signals to other governments our (US) concern about named organizations.”

It is likely that Pres. Duterte’s initial willingness to negotiate a peace agreement with the NDFP did not sit well with the US. When the NDFP and government peace panels agreed to recommend the delisting of CPP founding chairperson Prof. Jose Ma. Sison as an international terrorist as part of the peace talks, the State Department maintained that the CPP-NPA is still an FTO as far as the US is concerned.  

But even before this latest declaration by Malacañang, the peace talks between the Duterte government and the communist rebels was already increasingly rocky and uncertain. This, as the President started to warm up with Trump since the controversial Republican took over the White House from Barack Obama in January this year. In May, the Philippine government unilaterally cancelled the supposed fifth round of formal negotiations just as this was about to start. Reportedly, this aborted fifth round was set to resume last weekend until, again, Pres. Duterte’s unilateral last minute cancellation.

Master’s orders

During the bilateral meeting between Pres. Duterte and Trump at the sidelines of the ASEAN meetings, the US chief executive promised to continue US military support and assistance for the fight against terrorism. The two leaders also agreed to enhance their counterterrorism cooperation through more military exercises, increased information sharing, and by addressing the “drivers of conflict and extremism”. It is likely that the US discouraged the Duterte government from continuing peace negotiations with ​the US government-designated FTO.

The amount of attention that Trump enjoyed during his visit not only from the national media but from the host itself illustrates that the neocolonial bond between Washington and Manila is far from severed. While the President may have said it in jest, his statement that he crooned at the ASEAN gala dinner “upon orders of the commander-in-chief of the United States” pretty much sums up the substantially unchanged relationship between the US and the Philippines under a Trump-Duterte regime.

In the past decade (2006 to 2016), American businesses have invested US$4.1 billion or 10.3% of the total foreign direct investment (FDI) that flowed into the domestic economy, the second biggest among all foreign investors. The US is also the second largest market for products from the Philippines, accounting for US$89.2 billion or 15.6% of the country’s total exports in the past 10 years. Furthermore, remittances from overseas Filipinos based in the US are the largest among all countries, reaching US$89.4 billion in the past decade or 40.4% of the total. Lastly, the US has also disbursed a total of US$2.1 billion in economic assistance from 2006 to 2016. In a joint statement following their bilateral talks, the US and Philippine heads of state also pledged to expand and deepen US-PH economic ties, especially in the area of free trade.

But as crucial as the economic relationship between the two countries is and while the US continues to shape the country’s economic direction, the more visible, not to say more controversial, aspect of US presence and intervention in the Philippines is in the area of military cooperation. This is characterized by the uninterrupted rotational (thus permanent) deployment of American troops in the country and the construction of military facilities to base them, the annual war exercises between Filipino and American armed forces, the frequent port calls of US warships, American participation in local military operations, and provision of US military aid. As Trump said before he left the country, he considers the Philippines “a most prime piece of real estate from a military standpoint.”

From 2006 to 2016, the US has disbursed a total of US$610.5 million in military assistance to the Philippines. The annual figures are increasing significantly in recent years. In the past three years, for example, US military aid to the Philippines is expanding by more than twice the pace of its economic aid (46.8% yearly growth vs. 20.6%). In 2016, Manila got the largest military aid (US$141.2 million) from the US Defense department among all 21 recipient countries in the East Asia and Oceania region.

This year, the US has so far provided more than Php2.2 billion in military assistance that include various military articles, based on news reports. These include the Raven tactical unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV system (Php60 million); 25 combat rubber raiding craft and 30 outboard motors (Php250 million); 200 Glock pistols, 300 M4 carbines, 100 grenade launchers, four mini-guns, and individual operator gear (Php250 million); two C-208 Cessna aircraft (Php1.6 billion); a Tethered Aerostat Radar System or TARS (about Php40 million); and 1,000 M40 field protective masks.

Biggest casualty 

And while the peace talks with the NDFP is likely a casualty of the Trump-Duterte meeting to push the US’ anti-terror agenda and justify its continued military presence and intervention in the country, the biggest casualty of a final termination of the peace negotiations (if Duterte will indeed declare the CPP-NPA-NDFP as terrorists) is the prospect of genuine social, economic and political reforms addressing the roots of armed conflict in the country. It is regrettable because both panels recognize that this is the farthest that they have gone in the history of peace negotiations.

Duterte scuttles 5th round anew, should be replaced, Sison says

It was the elusive fifth round of formal peace talks in Oslo between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) that was scuttled by President Rodrigo Duterte in repeated statements this week.

In a statement following Malacañan’s announcement of termination of the peace process Thursday night, NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison said the fifth round of formal talks was actually slated on November 25 to 27.

“After several months of hard work in unilateral and bilateral meetings, the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels were ready to do a little polishing of common drafts on November 22 and 23 in Utrecht, The Netherlands for finalization in the slated fifth round of formal talks in Oslo on November 25 to 27, 2017,” Sison said.

Sison also revealed that both parties actually expected the negotiations on the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPCR) would begin in the sixth round and be completed anytime between March and May of 2018 “on time for possible revisions of the 1987 Constitution of GRP.”

“Unfortunately, Duterte, the principal of the GRP Negotiating Panel, started on Nov. 18 to rant every day against the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines), NPA (New People’s Army) and the NDFP in connection with recent incidents in the armed conflict,” Sison said.

Presidential spokesperson announced Thursday Duterte signed Proclamation Number 360 terminating the peace talks citing “acts of violence and hostilities” by the NPA, including attacks against the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in recent weeks.

Since Saturday, Duterte has threatened to tag the Communist Party of the Philippines, the NPA and the NDFP as terrorists, vowing to arrest even their so-called legal fronts such as the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

Amnesty, ceasefire, rural development

In his statement entitled “How Duterte sabotaged the GRP-NDFP Peace Process,” Sison revealed the three agenda that could have discussed Oslo starting tomorrow.

Sison said the common drafts were those pertaining to:

1. the general amnesty and release of all political prisoners in compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL),

2. the coordinated unilateral ceasefires (CUC) as the advance from a stand down type of ceasefire from the fifth to the sixth round of formal talks in January 2018; and

3. Part I Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD) and Part II National Industrialization and Economic Development (NIED) of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

“The GRP and NDFP Negotiating Panels were so happy and confident that they would be able to initial the CASER and the agreements on the general amnesty and release of all political prisoners and the coordinated unilateral ceasefires at the closing session of the fifth round of formal talks and formally sign all of these at the closing ceremony of the sixth round in January 2018,” Sison said.

‘Discreet round’

The fifth formal round of peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Duterte government in Oslo would have been the first time media coverage is disallowed.

Sources told Kodao some members and consultants of the GRP Negotiating Panel as well as some of their NDFP counterparts were in The Netherlands since last week for the November 22 and 23 preparatory meetings.

Duterte also ordered the cancellation of the first scheduled fifth round of formal talks in The Netherlands last May after failing to force the NDFP to sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement.

Sison accused Duterte of violating their mutual agreement that talks would be discreet until there would be good news to announce at the end of the fifth or sixth round of formal talks.

Sison said that Duterte’s rants unwittingly exposed his former student’s “scarce, shallow and defective knowledge of the peace process” such as citing recent armed clashes as the basis for terminating the formal negotiations when there are no ceasefire agreements in place.

Sison said the AFP and the PNP are committing violations “far worse in scale and severity than those alleged by Duterte against the NPA.”

“And yet NDFP never threatened to terminate the peace negotiations,” he said, adding the NDFP also did not ignore the GRP proposal for a stand down agreement prior to the adoption and implementation of the coordinated unilateral ceasefire.

Mentally unfit

Sison said Duterte is showing symptoms he is mentally unfit to handle the complexities of the affairs of his state and the peace process between the GRP and NDFP, urging officials in the Cabinet and the AFP to consider replacing the President in accordance with the 1987 Constitution.

“Showing gross ignorance of the peace process, he even referred to The Netherlands as the facilitator rather than the Royal Norwegian Government,” Sison said.

“Among his lucid statements in the course of his rants are those pertaining to his voluntary admission as a fascist in the service of the US (Amboy), his overwhelming desire for killing and war and his advice to the NDFP to negotiate with his successor in due time,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

Duterte signs Proclamation 360 terminating talks with the NDFP

Malacañan announced President Rodrigo Duterte signed Thursday afternoon Proclamation 360 declaring the termination of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines’ (GRP) peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

“This is to announce that the President signed this afternoon, November 23, Proclamation 360 declaring the termination of peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – The New People’s Army (NPA),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a statement released to reporters tonight said.

The statement reiterated Duterte’s directive to Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the GRP Panel for the peace talks with the NDFP to cancel peace talks and meetings with the NDFP.

Malacañan again blamed the NDFP, CPP and NPA for engaging in “acts of violence and hostilities” for the decision.

“We find it unfortunate that their members have failed to show their sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peaceful negotiations,” the statement said.

Malacañan added Duterte wanted to “leave a legacy of peace under his administration,” adding he has walked the extra mile for peace.

“Rest assured that he will continuously pray that we may all find the peace that we seek for our beloved country in the fullness of God’s time,” the statement said.

The GRP has yet to give the NDFP a copy of the proclamation.

According to The Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, the peace negotiations may only be deemed formally terminated 30 days after a formal written notice is given by one party to the other.

Last February, Presidential Peace Adviser to the Peace Process Jesus Dureza also tried to cancel the peace negotiations through an electronic mail sent to the NDFP, which the NDFP refused to acknowledge as it was “improperly addressed.”

Dureza’s February 7 should have been sent to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the NDFP as the Negotiating Panel and its consultants draw their authority from the NEC of the NDFP based in the country,” NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili reminded Dureza then.

“The original of the letter should also be sent by mail or courier to the NDFP Information Office in The Netherlands to be formally received by the NDFP Negotiating Panel,” Agcaoili explained.

The NDFP has yet to issue a statement on Duterte’s termination proclamation.

Earlier tonight, NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison said Duterte is “hell-bent on frustrating the people´s clamor for peace negotiations to address the roots of the civil war through the adoption and implementation of social, economic, political and constitutional reforms as the basis of a just and lasting peace.”

“The (Duterte) regime is striving to intimidate the people with its own terrorist scheme and crimes in order to seize absolute autocratic power for Duterte and limitless opportunity for the bureaucratic corruption of his family and ruling clique,” Sison added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

People have no choice but wage all forms of resistance, Sison warns Duterte

National Democratic Front of the Philippines Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison said the Filipino people are left with no choice but to resist the country’s “number one terrorist” who is setting up a “fascist dictatorship”: Rodrigo Duterte.

In a strongly-worded statement following his former student’s threats against the Left, Sison said Duterte is culpable for the abduction, torture and mass murder of an increasing large number of poor people suspected of being drug users and pushers.

Sison added Duterte is also culpable for the murder of peasants and indigenous peoples in suspect guerilla fronts and Moro people suspected of aiding the Dawlah Islamiya from the time of the indiscriminate bombing of Marawi Cuty to the present in several Bangsamoro areas.

“Duterte´s bloodlust and mania for mass murder are boundless,” Sison said Thursday.

Reacting to Duterte’s latest threats to label the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorists and to arrest activists, Sison slammed Duterte as “utterly malicious and shameless.”

Sison said Duterte expects to wipe out through arbitrary arrests, torture, indefinite detention and massacre of suspected revolutionaries and legal social activists both the armed revolutionary movement and the legal democratic movement in order to set up a fascist dictatorship.

Duterte also cancelled “planned meetings” for the resumption of formal peace negotiations with the NDFP.

In a speech before soldiers in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija Wednesday, Duterte again threatened to tag all so-called legal fronts of the New People’s Army as criminals and have them arrested for conspiracy even as he reiterated he would soon declare the NPA as a terror group.

“We will treat you as criminals. We will arrest you, including legal fronts, legal fronts helping to topple government…sow terror,” Duterte said.

But Sison said it is Duterte who is “already discredited as a mass murderer, political swindler, a sycophant to foreign powers and a corrupt bureaucrat.”

These characteristics as well as the so-called chronic crisis of the ruling system in the Philippines will limit Duterte’s ability to stay in power and will only accelerate the growth and rise of a revolutionary united front against “his rule of greed and terror,” Sison added.

“As when Marcos imposed fascist dictatorship on the Philippines in 1972,  the revolutionary forces, the legal democratic forces and the broad masses of the people now have no choice but to wage all forms of resistance and fight for national sovereignty, democracy, economic development, social and cultural progress and independent foreign policy,” Sison said.

The CPP founder said the people and revolutionary forces are forced to intensify the “people´s war” through an extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare in rural areas and partisan or commando operations in urban areas.

“The legal democratic forces and broad opposition have no choice but to develop the underground and encourage endangered activists to become fighters in the people´s army (NPA),” he added.

Sison also alleged there are already rumblings against the “despotic, criminal and corrupt” character of the Duterte regime even within the armed forces and police.

“Duterte is now worried to death by his own fear that anti-Duterte officers within his own army and police are inclined to act in the name of the people and unite with the broad opposition and mass movement in order to end the Duterte regime in the same manner that the Marcos and Estrada regimes were ended,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Dureza announces cancellation of ‘meetings’ with the NDFP

Presidential Adviser to the Peace Process Jesus Dureza today announced the cancellation of “planned meetings” with the communists, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest pronouncements against the Left Tuesday.

In a statement, Dureza said the cancellation is due to recent violent incidents reportedly committed by the communist rebels.

“We are hereby announcing today the cancellation of all planned meetings with the CPP/NPA/NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front [of the Philippines]) in line with President Duterte’s directive that there will be no more peace talks with them,” Dureza’s statement said.

It is the first time the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) admitted meetings with its counterpart had been afoot.

Dureza said the cancellation is an “unfortunate development” as their negotiations with the NDFP have already reached far.

Both parties were set to finalize their negotiations on agrarian reform and rural development when Duterte cancelled the scheduled fifth round of formal talks in The Netherlands a few hours before it was set to begin last May.

Dureza again blamed the communists’ unwillingness to reciprocate “unprecedented steps” Duterte has taken to revive the peace negotiations with the NDFP.

The NDFP for its part has repeatedly said earlier they refuse to sign another open-ended bilateral ceasefire agreement without agreements on social and economic as well as political and constitutional reforms.

The NDFP said Duterte is only interested in forcing the NPA to an indefinite ceasefire without addressing the root causes of the armed conflict such as poverty and inequality.

A source told Kodao that Dureza’s announcement is not a termination of the entire GRP-NDFP peace process, citing the lack of a formal notification from one or both parties submitted to the Royal Norwegian Government, the Third Party Facilitator of the talks.

The NDFP has yet to reply to Dureza’s latest statement. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte backtracks on peace talks again

President Rodrigo Duterte announced he has decided to stop talks with communists despite efforts by both Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panels to resume formal peace negotiations soon.

In his speech Tuesday night in Taguig City before families of soldiers killed in the five-month siege of Marawi, Duterte said he has decided to “cut talks with the NPA (New People’s Army),” armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), as of Monday, November 20.

Sinabi  ko kay [Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus] Dureza, pati kay (Government of the Republic of the Philippines chief negotiator Silvestre] Bello, ‘You tell the guys there in The Netherlands I am no longer available for any official talks. Gyera na lang tayo,’” Duterte said.

Duterte blamed the communists for issuing “unreasonable demands” while ignoring his own demand for a “stand down”.

Duterte added he would push through with his decision to tag the CPP and the NPA as “terrorists” like what the United States government did.

“I will follow America. Tutal sinasabi nila amboy (American Boy) daw ako. Kailan pa ako naging amboy? ‘Duterte, US fascist.’ O, e, di sige, granted. I will admit it, pasista ako. So I will categorize you already as a terrorist,” he said.

Duterte also said he would go after all mining companies which he accused of giving the NPA money through bank-to-bank transactions as well as legal organizations and activists “fronting” for the CPP.

Fascist rants and acts

Yesterday, however, the CPP Public Information Bureau in a statement said the threat to tag the NPA as terrorists and to crackdown on activists is just Duterte’s way of hinting his inclination to extend martial law in Mindanao beyond December 31 in accordance with the wishes of the military.

“Duterte is nothing if not consistent in his fascist rants and acts, using even the tired excuse of the progressive Left ‘conspiring’ with the NPA, to constantly kowtow to the wishes of the higher echelons of the US-controlled armed forces,” the CPP said.

“Duterte is wrong in thinking that the revolutionary movement will just roll over and surrender in the face of his rants,” the underground group added.

Peace talks resumption

The NDFP Negotiating Panel, for its part, has yet to issue a statement on Duterte’s latest tirade against their group and its effects on efforts to resume formal peace negotiations.

Duterte himself hinted he would resume peace negotiations with the NDFP in a speech at the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental last October 20.

“I have to talk to the NPA still,” Duterte said.

Malacañang also released a photo of Duterte meeting GRP negotiators and consultants last October 19 that hinted of the possible resumption of either backchannel talks or formal rounds of negotiations with the NDFP within the year.

The Royal Norwegian Government, Third Party Facilitator to the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, also appointed Diplomat Idun Tvedt as new special envoy that raised hopes for the resumption of the talks.

Inquirer.net reported Tvedt was to visit the Philippines last October to talk to the parties for a possible resumption of formal negotiations in Oslo in November or December. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte an ‘arrogant fake’–CPP

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) called President Rodrigo Duterte an “arrogant fake” for cussing the drivers and small operators who recently held a two-day nationwide transport strike against the government’s planned phase out of the iconic jeepney.

Nagpupuputok ang butse mo sa ibinubugang usok ng mga jeep, pero tameme ka naman sa napakakapal na usok ng mga coal-fired power plant na lumalason sa kapaligiran sa buong bansa,” the CPP said in a statement. [You are angry at the smoke belched by the jeepney but you are silent about the thick smoke from coal-fired power plants that poison the entire country’s environment.]

“The truth is, you just want drivers and small operators to die in hardship and poverty in order to serve your true masters,” the group added.

In his speech at the Federalism Summit in Naga City Tuesday, Duterte unleashed another cuss-filled tirade against the protesters,

Mahirap kayo? P*******a, magtiis kayo sa hirap at gutom. Wala akong pakialam!” Duterte told the protesters. [You say you are poor? You sons of bitches, put up with hardship and hunger. I don’t have a care!]

The CPP said Duterte again showed his true color.

[G]alit sa mga gutom at mahirap, laluna ang mga marunong manindigan at lumaban para sa kanilang interes,” the CPP said. [He is against the hungry and the poor, especially those who know how to stand up and struggle for their interests.]

In his speech, Duterte also branded transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide, human rights group Karapatan and Kilusang Mayo Uno as CPP fronts.

Dictator’s mindset

Other groups also condemned Duterte’s statements against the protesters.

“We say to Mr. Duterte: please stick to the issue! His self-indulged blabbing over the national television, refuses to address the real threat to the livelihood of the country’s jeepney drivers being posed by the Jeepney Phaseout Scheme,” KMU said.

KMU said Duterte refuses to listen to the jeepney drivers and operators’ legitimate demand and logical reasoning to junk the jeepney phaseout scheme.

“Duterte is proving he himself is a front of the oligarchs, such as the Ayalas, Pangilinan, and Cojuangco, who will be raking super profits from this scheme. The same oligarchs whom he handed control over MRT/LRT, express ways, telecommunication, power, and water,” KMU said.

“Duterte has the mindset of a dictator! When the poor exercise their right to speak up against threats to their livelihood, he brands their actions as ‘conspiracy’ and ‘rebellion’,” the group added.

Anakbayan Metro Manila burns an image of Duterte following the President’s cuss-filled tirade against striking jeepney drivers. (Photo by Kathy Yamzon)

Meanwhile, youth group Anakbayan-Metro Manila slipped through heavily-guarded Mendiola Street to hold a lightning rally at Malacañan Palace Thursday and condemn “Duterte’s inhumane and anti-poor statement” on the recently concluded transport strike.

The group burned Duterte’s image depicting him as “anti-poor, anti-people, and subservient to foreign masters” at the Palace’s Gate 7.

Anakbayan said it also holds Duterte accountable for the extrajudicial killings as well as the violent demolition and harassment of residents in Floodway, Pasig. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte has never been an ally–Sison

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison denied the revolutionary movement in the Philippines has ever been in an alliance or in a united front with President Rodrigo Duterte.

According to a report published on the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) website, Sison said in a speech last September 15 in Utrecht, The Netherlands his former student has never been the movement’s ally despite his claim there is a “Duterte faction” among revolutionaries in southern Mindanao.

Sison said their southern Mindanao comrades described Duterte a bureaucrat capitalist or “a politician who creates private wealth for himself using his public office.”

Duterte is capable of saying and doing anything that is left, middle or right, depending on what serves him from moment to moment, Sison said.

In a speech at the reopening of the NDFP’s International Office in the Dutch city, Sison said some people misunderstood their efforts to promote the peace negotiations between the Duterte regime and the Left already involves a working alliance.

Sison added that while Duterte publicly offered as many as four cabinet posts to the CPP, it cannot accept any government position while there are talks.

The NDFP instead nominated Judy Taguiwalo to the Department of Social Work and Development, Rafael Mariano to the Department of Agrarian Reform and Liza Maza to the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

The NDFP said their nominees are “patriotic and progressive individuals who are highly qualified, honest and diligent.”

Taguiwalo and Mariano, however, were rejected by the Commission on Appointments (CA). Both said they felt no support from Duterte during their CA ordeal.

“There was never a united front deal. As a matter of fact, Duterte doesn’t want a coalition government but only an inclusive government under his leadership. It is by way of undertaking goodwill measure that the NDFP recommended meritorious individuals,” Sison said.

Sison admitted there was a recommendation to the NDFP to entertain Duterte as a possible ally. But he explained the recommendation is conditional to the peace negotiations.

Duterte cancelled the fifth round of formal negotiations in The Netherlands last May after failing to secure an open-ended bilateral ceasefire agreement with the CPP and the New People’s Army.

The report said Sison “assailed some reactionary political forces who claim that the revolutionary movement has been in alliance with Duterte and trying to blame the movement for the human rights violations committed by Duterte.”

Sison said the revolutionary movement is ready to work with a broad united front of various political forces, including reactionaries who are against the Duterte regime it now considers the enemy.

Sison also warned the military and police who would turn against Duterte are the President’s biggest threat that can result in his quick ouster. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)