The resignation of the head of the ceasefire committee of the government negotiating panel with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) exposes how President Rodrigo Duterte and the military have made the peace talks impossible, Prof. Jose Maria Sison said.
Responding to Francisco “Pancho” Lara’s announcement of his resignation as chairperson of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Negotiating Panel ceasefire committee, Sison said he thinks Lara “got fed up” with Duterte and the military.
“I think that Pancho got fed up with Durterte and the military when Duterte practically waste-basketed the draft agreements that had resulted from the hard work in backchannel talks by teams of the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels from March to June 2018,” Sison told Kodao.
The GRP and NDFP peace talks were supposed to resume last June after Duterte terminated the negotiations with his issuance of Proclamation 360 in November 2017 and his subsequent declaration of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as so-called terrorist organizations in December.
Both parties were ready to formally sign an interim peace agreement in June, a package that included a stand down agreement between the NPA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police; Guidelines and Procedures towards an Interim Peace Agreement and the Resumption of Talks and its attached timetable; the Initialed Interim Peace Agreement; and the NDFP Proposed Draft of the Amnesty Proclamation which was given to the GRP and the Third Party Facilitator.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News Friday, Lara said additional preconditions for the resumption of formal negotiations have “torpedoed” certain aspects of the peace talks.
He revealed that localized peace talks and the demand for Sison’s return to the Philippines were additions to the original agenda that included a ceasefire agreement with the NDFP while negotiations are being held.
“I think those additional issues torpedoed the discussions of a ceasefire and the other reforms because, then, the bar had been raised higher,” Lara said.
Lara surmised that his replacement may be someone more trusted by Duterte and the military or the military would like to take on the issue of ceasefire with the NDFP themselves.
Duterte has appointed former AFP chief of staff Carlito Galvez after formal Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza’s sudden resignation last month due to corruption within the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
“I know that based on my discussions with the military that they probably want something else rather than a ceasefire,” Lara told ABS-CBN News.
“I think they want to prosecute the war as it is happening right now,” he said.
Sison seconded Lara’s observation, adding the NDFP learned that Duterte allowed the military officers at the command conference held in Malacañang in June 2018 “to insult the OPAPP and the GRP Negotiating Panel.”
Sison did not give details on how the alleged insult happened.
“I think that Duterte is a captive of his own greed for power and bureaucratic look. He does not want the peace negotiations so that he can scapegoat the CPP, NPA and NDFP as pretext and cause for establishing a full-blown fascist dictatorship through chacha (Charter Change) to a bogus kind of federalism,” Sison said.
The OPAPP website has not published a statement on Lara’s resignation as of this posting. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)