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More revolutionary groups reject ‘localized talks’

More local revolutionary groups reject the government’s localized peace talks scheme, further accusing President Rodrigo Duterte of insincerity in negotiating to resolve the civil war raging in the country.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Duterte’s home region of Southern Mindanao said it too rejects the President’s localized peace talks plans as “nothing but a hollow attempt to draw a veil over the ravages of Martial Law in Mindanao and the escalating bloodbath of Oplan Kapayapaan affecting millions of civilians in the country.”

“The idea of peace negotiations that are ‘nationally orchestrated, centrally directed and locally supervised and implemented’ is but a smokescreen to obscure the fact that Duterte has never been serious in addressing the root causes of the Filipino people’s armed resistance and is only predisposed in the complete capitulation of the revolutionary movement,” NDFP-Southern Mindanao Region in a statement Sunday said.

In Southern Mindanao, particularly in Duterte’s home town of Davao City, New People’s Army (NPA) forces have declined all “invitations” for localized peace talks, NDFP-SMR said.

Similar offers made by Davao City mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte have also been declined by the NPA who told the local executive to better direct her “gestures” at supporting the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines)-NDFP negotiations instead.

“All Red commanders and fighters of all units of the New People’s Army in the country are behind their national leadership in supporting the negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP panels in a foreign venue,” NDFP-SMR said.

The NPA’s Venerando Villacillo Command (NPA-VCC) in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces also said over the weekend that localized peace talks will not resolve the root of the armed conflict.

“Only the 5th Infantry Division [of the Philippine Army], armed state forces, intelligence units, local elite and foreign imperialist capitalists would benefit from localized peace talks,” NPA-VCC said, adding it was Duterte who ended the negotiations through his Presidential Proclamation No. 360 in November 23 last year.

The 5th ID based in Gamu, Isabela province is the lead AFP unit operating in most parts of Northern Luzon.

‘Surrender package’

Rubi del Mundo, NDFP-SMR spokesperson, said the proposed localized peace talk is nothing but a “surrender package” that revolutionary groups reject.

“Despite the overwhelming support for resuming the peace negotiations between the two panels, it is evident that Duterte is adamant in making a circus, a pointless and an expensive one, at the cost of taxpayers’ money and at the behest of his blood-hungry advisers in the US-controlled AFP and the Department of National Defense,” del Mundo said.

Del Mundo added that Duterte also intends to isolate the many local and national politicians who are supportive of the NDFP-GRP negotiations and paint them as anti-peace or communist sympathizers. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP says no to ‘pretend talks’ with LGUs

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) slammed Malacañan’s announcement of an executive order for localized peace negotiations, calling the scheme “pretend talks.”

After local National Democratic Front formations have rejected peace negotiations with local government officials, the CPP itself strongly spurned the offer, saying President Duterte will only use these to “pretend to want peace while actually waging total war against the people.”

Malacañang yesterday announced it will soon issue an executive order to pursue “localized peace talks” istead of formal negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) abroad.

“So-called localized peace talks are a sham, a waste of people’s money, and are doomed to fail. It is a worn-out psywar tactic to project victory to conceal the continuing failure of the AFP to suppress the people’s resistance and stem the steady growth of the NPA (New People’s Army),” the CPP said.

“The civil war will continue to rage despite local peace talks,” the group added.

Earlier, NDF-Panay and the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front issued statements rejecting localized peace talks between local revolutionary groups and the GRP.

Duterte’s “localized peace talks” dovetail with such corruption-riddled programs as the “balik-baril program,” the Comprehensive Local Integration Program and the recent surrender campaign, the CPP pointed out.

“Only local government officials and military field officers are happy with the ‘localized peace talks’, a money-making racket with hundreds of million of funds that will surely end up in their pockets,” the CPP in a statement Friday (June 13) said.

The underground party accused AFP field officers of being overzealous in their effort to conjure the illusion of “mass surrenderees” where hundreds of local residents are being rounded up in AFP-occupied villages and later misrepresented before the public as “surrenderees”.

“They have overdone their surrender campaign as they have declared close to 8,000 surrendered since January, after having claimed earlier this year that there are only 3,000 NPA members,” the CPP said.

The group added AFP’s are being funded directly by Malacañan.

“The Party declares that the [NPA] and all revolutionary forces are united under the Party’s central leadership and unequivocably support the Negotiating Panel of the NDFP in its representation of all revolutionary forces in negotiations with the GRP,” it said.

“Surely, this pretend ‘localized’ peace talks will not involve even a single genuine revolutionary force. Duterte will certainly be negotiating only with its own shadow,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte’s preconditions completely shutting down talks–CPP

The Information Bureau of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said President Rodrigo Duterte is bent on completely shutting down the peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

Reacting to a statement issued by presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza Thursday (June 5), the CPP said the government’s claims that the doors for resuming peace talks with the NDFP are still open is an outright lie.

“[T]he GRP has repeatedly terminated the talks and make it appear that it is the NDFP which closed its doors,” the CPP said.

In a statement, Dureza said that while the doors for the resumption of the peace talks are still open, it is subject to the following wishes of the President:

  • There will be no coalition government,
  • There will be a stop in the collection of the so-called revolutionary tax,
  • The venue of the talks will be local,
  • There will be a ceasefire agreement in which armed NPA (New People’s Army) members are encamped in designated areas.

Dureza added the government may pursue localized peace arrangements.

“This ‘way forward’ in the stalled peace talks was decided following the consolidation of various positions expressed during the command conference convened by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte last night in Malacañang,” Dureza said.

The CPP, however said, that by demanding that future talks should be held in a local venue, Duterte is driving another nail to completely shut down the NDFP-GRP peace talks.

“He (Duterte) knows fully well that the demand to hold talks in the Philippines is unacceptable and unworkable for the NDFP, unless he thinks the NDFP will be negotiating only to surrender the Filipino people’s aspirations and give up all its revolutionary principles,” the CPP said.

The underground party added that by completely shutting the door to the negotiations, Duterte is laying down the conditions for imposing martial law or a general crackdown, use the terror proscription against the CPP and NPA against his critics and dissenters against his tyranny, and push charter change for pseudo-federalism to perpetuate himself in power.

The CPP also pointed out that Dureza’s statement did not mention the fact that Duterte issued Presidential Proclamation No. 360 last November 23, 2017 that formally terminated peace negotiations with the NDFP.

Duterte’s proclamation has never been rescinded, the CPP said.

Duterte also derailed efforts to resume talks by cancelling its scheduled resumption last June 28, it added.

Dureza’s statement was reiterated by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in a press briefing in Malacañan Thursday morning.

‘Ignorant, arrogant’

Roque told reporters that Duterte is still open to the talks, provided his preconditions that the talks are held in the Philippines and that the NPA encamp are met.

Roque also revealed that the government is planning to come out with its so-called guidelines on localized peace talks.

“If the CPP-NPA would agree to these demands, the talks may still continue,” Roque said.

The Philippine Peace Center (PPC), however said Duterte’s preconditions “show utter ignorance, if not highhanded arrogance, in the conduct of peace negotiations,” adding such preconditions poison the atmosphere and is contrary to any serious, honest-to-goodness negotiation.

“To impose such preconditions on the NDFP is tantamount to demanding its capitulation or surrender, and therefore unacceptable,” PPC executive director Rey Claro Casambre said.

Casambre said that Duterte’s preconditions are absurd because they ignore that both sides have agreed to resolve the armed conflict through peaceful negotiations, with neither one imposing its will or its demands over the other across the negotiating table.

Casambre added that Duterte’s new preconditions violate GRP’s own set of principles and guidelines governing its position and conduct in the peace negotiations.

Quoting Executive Order (EO) 125 by the Fidel Ramos administration and EO 3 by the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo government, Casambre said the GRP has committed to “[a] comprehensive peace process seeks a principled and peaceful resolution to the internal armed conflicts, with neither blame nor surrender, but with dignity for all concerned.”

Casambre advised the GRP to get its act together, saying government officials commenting on the peace talks should learn the basics as well as the nuances from the more knowledgeable and hands-on Office of the Presidential Peace Adviser on the Peace Process and the GRP Panel.

“The result of all these ignorance and arrogance is that not only the GRP but the entire Filipino people are being deprived a useful venue for addressing and resolving the roots of the armed conflict,” Casambre added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Lorenzana, Año and Roque sounding death knell on talks—Agcaoili

Verbal attacks by government officials against Professor Jose Maria Sison is sounding like the death knell on the peace talks under the Rodrigo Duterte regime, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili said that the orchestrated tirades against Sison by Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana, acting Interior and Local Government secretary Eduardo Año and presidential spokesperson Harry Roque are purely lies and attacks by “peace spoilers.”

Lorenzana, Año and Roque have repeatedly blamed Sison for the impasse on the peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines after the prospective fifth round of formal talks has been cancelled for the fifth time last month.

“Let us not be lulled or hoodwinked by Sison’s glib tongue about reforms. They will institute reforms all right, but along communist lines when they have finally won,” Lorenzana said in a recent statement.

“In fact, they don’t even have to win because their socialistic CASER (Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms) , which they are trying to ram down our throats, will ensure that they will have a foothold in governance,” he added.

Año also accused Sison of being out of touch with what is happening in the Philippines while Roque in turn said the Communist Party of the Philippines founder is “arrogant”.

Agcaoili, however, said the GRP officials are falsely blaming the wrong person for the impasse, adding it is Duterte who should be blamed for the problems faced by the negotiations.

“Lorenzana, Año and Roque must have been in another planet when GRP President Duterte issued Proclamation 360 terminating the peace talks. That proclamation has never been rescinded impliedly or otherwise,” Agcaoili said.

“In fact Duterte postponed the mutually agreed upon date for resumption of the formal talks on June 28-30, 2018, in Oslo, Norway, which would have been the occasion to remove the impediments put up by the GRP to move the peace negotiations forward,” he added.

‘Not even original’

Agcaoili also clarified it was the government that suggested a coalition government with the NDFP.

“For the record, the NDFP has never put forward any demand for a coalition government. This has been clarified several times by Prof. Jose Maria Sison to the GRP and the Third Party Facilitator, the Royal Norwegian Government, since October 2017,” he said.

Agcaoili said it was during the time of former President Benigno Aquino when former GRP chief negotiator Alex Padilla under orders by then Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles who raised the spectre of a coalition government.

Agcaoili added that it was also with the Aquino administration that the NDFP draft of CASER was originally described as “socialist”.

“So, an allegedly anti-Aquino regime has adopted the false narrative of its arch enemy to waylay the peace talks,” Agcaoili said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP: ‘Lorenzinitis’ afflicts the peace process

The Information Bureau of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) lashed back at Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, saying the former general is the one defining the Rodrigo Duterte government’s policies on the peace talks.

Reacting to an article titled “The Public Should Know” attributed to Lorenzana, the CPP said the secretary defines the Duterte government’s so-called anti –peace policy “based on his one-track militarist mindset.”

“To Lorenzana and his ilk of fascists, including Duterte himself, the only solution to the civil war in the country is the military solution. This is the old 1930s dogma promoted by the US military [that] sees profit in every war it instigates and foments,” the CPP said in a statement.

CPP Information Bureau graphic describing Lorenzana’s so-called affliction.

The group said Lorenzana is a war promoter and consummate militarist who wants no non-military end to the civil war in the Philippines.

“He fears losing significance if the present civil war in the country is settled politically through peace negotiations. To him, the only solution is to recruit more and more soldiers to the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) in order to lay siege on thousands of barrios nationwide and sow terror among the people,” the CPP said.

A consistent critique of the peace process between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), Lorenzana again urged the Duterte administration to stop talking peace with the communists despite the President’s repeated clarification that he is only taking time off to review past agreements between the parties.

Lorenzana said negotiations on social and economic reforms are dangerous, blaming NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison for the agreements reached by the negotiating panels thus far.

“Let us not be lulled or hoodwinked by Sison’s glib tongue about reforms. They will institute reforms all right, but along communist lines when they have finally won,” Lorenzana wrote.

“In fact, they don’t even have to win because their socialistic CASER, which they are trying to ram down our throats, will ensure that they will have a foothold in governance,” he added.

Lorenzana threatened to pursue localized peace talks instead.

The New People’s Army has never agreed to negotiate with the government, however, repeatedly saying the NDFP Negotiating Panel is their only representative to the peace talks.

The CPP said the defense secretary’s wild and violent imagination as well as ”allergy to peace” are symptoms to an affliction called “lorenzanitis”.

“To the broad masses of workers and peasants, Duterte, Lorenzana and the AFP, are the real terrorists. Lorenzana, who once served as the military attache in Washington, is a big United States (US) military sales agent in the Philippine government,” the CPP said.

The CPP recalled that Lorenzana rejected the 5,000 assault rifles from China for the AFP and disposed it to the Philippine National Police instead.

“He is the zealous US sentry that ensures that the AFP will always remain as the key pillar of US hegemonism in the Philippines,” the group added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Baylosis files contempt charges against warden

Detained National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Rafael Baylosis filed  a petition for indirect contempt Friday against the warden of the Metro Manila District Jail-4 for refusing to release him despite a court order.

In his petition filed at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QC-RTC), Baylosis said Jail Chief Inspector Jojie Jonathan Pangan’s refusal to release him is an act constituting improper conduct.

Pangan’s snub of the court order tend to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice, is disobedience to a lawful order, and tantamount to disrespect to the authority of the court, Baylosis said.

Branch 100 of the QC-RTC ordered Baylosis’s release last June 14 upon his posting of a bail bond to allow him to participate in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.

Baylosis’s release order is valid and existing despite yet another cancellation of formal talks between the NDFP and the Rodrigo Duterte government, Baylosis’s lawyer and Public Interest Law Center (PILC) managing counsel Rachel Pastores said in a statement.

“[Baylosis] has no warrant of arrest in any other case. So there’s no reason for the jail warden to disobey the release order,” Pastores said.

“His continued, unreasonable refusal to implement it is a contemptuous act which not only violates Baylosis’ rights.  It clearly shows disdain of the court which must be punished,” Pastores explained.

“The warden is not above the law.  He is mandated to follow the rules and the law. It is in the public interest that warden’s willful defiance of a court order be sanctioned,” she stressed.

Baylosis was to participate in the scheduled preliminary meetings and formal talks in The Netherlands and Norway earlier this month as a member of the NDFP’s Ceasefire Committee.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process as well as the Department of Justice has reportedly posed no objection to the PILC’s petition for bail for Baylosis to allow him to negotiate the aborted coordinated unilateral ceasefire (CUC) between the NDFP and GRP.

Baylosis has been part of the peace negotiations in various capacities since 1996.

Arrested with a companion in Quezon City last February, Baylosis is facing charges of illegal possession of firearm and explosive at RTC Quezon City, Branch 100.

Pastores said the charges are trumped up by the Philippine National Police. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Joma says only NDFP Council decides on talks termination

Jose Maria Sison clarified that he did not terminate the peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), saying it is only their group’s National Council that can make the decision to suspend, cancel or terminate their peace negotiations with the government.

“[The NDFP] has not yet made such a decision,” Sison said in a statement Friday, June 29.

Reacting to news reports that he has cancelled or terminated the peace negotiations, Sison said that he only made a critical review of GRP President Rodrigo Duterte’s behaviour in relation to the stalled peace negotiations.

“I deplored among other things his failure to fulfil his promise to amnesty and release all political prisoners and his repeated whimsical termination of the negotiations as many as three times. It is very likely that he will convert his three-month suspension of the formal talks to one more termination,” Sison said.

In his presentation to a forum entitled “Political implications of the current impasse and prospects of the GRP-NDFP peace talks Thursday, Sison said that based on the implications drawn from the current impasse, the NDFP can no longer negotiate with a GRP that is headed by Duterte.

“So long as he heads the GRP, the Filipino people, especially the oppressed and exploited, cannot expect any benefit from negotiating with the Duterte regime,” Sison, speaking via online streaming from The Netherlands, said.

In his clarification issued Friday, Sison said he made the estimate that Duterte will render the resumption of formal negotiations impossible by imposing on the NDFP the demand that the venue be shifted to Manila.

“The NDFP will not agree to such a demand because it violates the JASIG (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees) provision for a neutral venue abroad and because NDFP does not want to put its negotiating panel and related personnel under the control, surveillance and duress by Duterte and the military,” Sison said.

Sison added he let Duterte have the singular dishonor of repeatedly terminating the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations within so short a time, repeatedly pointing out that Duterte is not interested in the peace negotiations but in scapegoating the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) and NPA (New People’s Army) for the purpose of declaring martial law nationwide or a state of emergency “in his mad drive to establish a fascist dictatorship under the guise of charter change to federalism.”

“In this regard, I have observed that it would be easier to cause the ouster of Duterte than to expect a just and honorable peace agreement with GRP under his command,” Sison explained.

Sison earlier said that while NDFP is not completely closing the door on the peace negotiations, the NDFP will study very carefully any offer by the government to resume formal peace negotiations.

‘Let Duterte do it’

In the said forum, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said their group has always readied itself for any breakdown in the talks.

“It’s nearing untenable stratus,” Agcaoili, also speaking via online streaming, said, citing the Duterte government’s new measures like the crackdown on street loiterers and continuing killings linked to its drug war.

Acaoili also said Duterte’s incendiary remarks, the arrests and killings of activists and threats against churches and human rights groups are meant to provoke rebel forces.

Agcaoili said Duterte should be the one to finally terminate formal peace negotiations with the NDFP.

Siya mag-terminate,” Agcaoili said. (Let [Duterte] terminate.)

“Any side can move to terminate. But if we walk first, he will use it as an excuse to unleash his fascist dictatorship,” he added.

Agcaoili said the revolutionary forces must not let down its guard against Duterte.

“Revolutionary and progressive forces must exercise vigilance and be committed to act in self-defense, especially forces in the underground,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Joma twits Duterte on sex video remark

President Rodrigo Duterte has a really confused mind, replying with off topic answers, Jose Maria Sison said.

Magulo talaga ang utak ni Duterte. Siya ang tanungin kung bakit bigla niyang binabanggit si Leila de Lima at iyong umano’y sex video,” Sison said of the President’s reply to his earlier announcement the National Democractic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) could no longer negotiate peace with the Duterte government and would be more productive if it joins forces with the Oust-Duterte movement

In Paglao, Bohol hours after Sison’s issued his statement, Duterte mockingly asked what forces would join the NDFP in ousting him.

“What forces? Who is willing to join him [Sison]? [Senator Leila] de Lima? My God!” Duterte told reporters at the 25th annual convention of the Vice Mayors’ League of the Philippines.

“Just watch the X-rated (video). It’s clear,” Duterte added, referring to the sex video that he alleged was of the detained de Lima.

Non sequitur ang pagbanggit kay Leila de Lima,” Sison said.

‘Continue with the war’

Duterte said he is fine in continuing with the war against the Communist Party of the Philippines.

“If they are not willing to talk to me, that’s fine. I have no problem. So we continue with the war,” he said.

“If you want to overthrow my government, fine. If you are willing to talk, come here. If you don’t want, then it’s OK,” Duterte challenged Sison.

Duterte said he is wondering why Sison is not taking on his offer to let him visit the Philippines.

“Why is he not taking the chance of coming over? I might give to him the government on a silver platter,” he said.

Sison, however, said Duterte’s repeated offer to let him come home is a trap, as well as a violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees to have the talks be held in a foreign neutral venue.

“The change of venue is so that Duterte and the military can put the NDFP under their control, surveillance duress and manipulation,” Sison said.

“Si Duterte ang nanira sa peace negotiations: tatlong terminations magmula May 2017 at isang pakunwaring postponement na intended to end the peace negotiation with his demand that violates the JASIG provision for a neutral venue abroad,” Sison added.

Speaking to a forum in Quezon City via video streaming Thursday (June 28), Sison said that while NDFP is not completely closing the door on the peace negotiations, the NDFP will study very carefully any offer by the government to resume formal peace negotiations. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP could no longer negotiate with Duterte regime—Sison

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said they could no longer negotiate with a government headed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

In his strongest statement condemning Duterte’s repeated cancellation of formal talks yet, Sison said the Filipino people, especially the oppressed and exploited, cannot expect any benefit from negotiating with Duterte’s government, adding the president has broken so many promises related to the peace process.

“It is relatively easier and more productive for the NDFP to participate in the Oust-Duterte movement and to prepare for peace negotiations with the prospective administration that replaces the Duterte regime,” Sison said Thursday (June 28).

Sison said the Duterte regime is on record as having terminated the peace talks so many times that it is indubitably responsible for the termination of peace negotiations.

“It is therefore just for the revolutionary forces and the people to wage people´s war for national liberation and democracy,” Sison said.

Sison added that it would be well and good if Duterte withdraws finally from the peace negotiations with the NDFP.

But, in so doing, Duterte would deprive himself of the opportunity of creating false illusions that he is for peace, Sison said.

“He stands isolated and ripe for ouster by the broad united front of patriotic and democratic forces,” Sison said.

Duterte’s many lies

In a two part statement, Sison mentioned several promises broken by Duterte, including an unsolicited declaration on May 16, 2016 to amnesty and release all political prisoners.

Duterte only released 19 NDFP peace consultants in August 2016 to allow them to participate in the talks while about 520 NDFP-listed others remain in various detention facilities nationwide.

Duterte has also terminated the peace negotiations with the NDFP three times since May 2017, even fouling up every attempt to resume formal talks through back channel efforts, Sison said.

After terminating the peace negotiations for the third time in November and December 2017, Duterte issued Proclamation 360 to terminate the peace negotiations and Proclamation 374 to designate the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations.

The Department of Justice subsequently filed a case before the Manila regional trial court (RTC) to seek the proscription of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People’s Army (NPA) and 600 individuals as terrorists.

“These are definitely obstacles to the resumption of peace negotiations with Duterte regime,” Sison said.

“Warm and cordial” start

NDFP’s negotiations with the Duterte government started well with the first two formal rounds of talks in Oslo, Norway described as “warm and cordial.”

Things turned sour, however, when a Philippine Army unit attacked an NPA camp in Arakan, North Cotabato in January 2017, killing an NPA fighter.

The attack came while the third round of formal talks just approved free land distribution as the centerpiece of a prospective agrarian reform and rural development agreement.

The five-month ceasefire in effect at the time, the longest between the NPA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, was subsequently cancelled by both parties.

The fourth round of formal talks in Noordwijk, The Netherlands in April 2017 was very nearly cancelled due to the insistence of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) negotiating panel to negotiate a bilateral ceasefire agreement before further negotiations on social and economic reforms can proceed.

GRP negotiators explained that a bilateral ceasefire agreement are goodwill measures that would provide a conducive atmosphere for the continuation of formal talks.

No fifth round of formal talks has yet pushed through despite the arrival of GRP negotiators in Noordwijk in May and  November 2017.

“The aforesaid actions of Duterte would have been enough bases for the NDFP to conclude that he is not at all interested in peace negotiations,” Sison said.

The CPP founder said the NDFP persevered and worked out a number of agreements with GRP representatives in back channel talks from March to June 2018, due in great part to the demands of peace advocates to remain on the negotiating table.

“The most important of these would have constituted the Interim Peace Agreement at the resumption of formal talks in Oslo from June 28 to 30,” Sison said.

The real reasons

Sison said the AFP and PNP’s wish to carry out to the end of 2018 their campaign plan to supposedly to finish off the NPA as well as to change the venue of peace talks to Manila are the real reasons why Duterte has canceled the resumption of peace talks in Oslo.

The change of venue is so that Duterte and the military can put the NDFP under their control, surveillance duress and manipulation, Sison said.

He said Ðuterte pretends to review in three months the entire process and all agreements in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations since 1992.

“By all indications, he will try to change the entire peace process and waste previous agreements. At any rate, he will try to impose on the NDFP changes that the NDFP will certainly reject,” he explained. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte insincere on talks – peace groups

By April Burcer

June 21 should have been the day “Stand Down Agreement” between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is signed, but the ceasefire did not push through because of the government’s decision to cancel formal talks between the parties.

In the “Are GRP-NDFP Peace Talks Still Possible with Pres. Duterte?” forum Thursday hosted by the group Pilgrims for Peace, Rey Casambre of the Philippine Peace Center said the Rodrigo Duterte government’s cancellation of the signing and implementation of the stand down agreement as well as the resumption of formal negotiations next week shows its insincerity in pursuing peace.

According to Casambre, another backchannel session is supposed to be the held as a final preparatory meeting being the government panel and NDFP finally resume formal negotiations.

Casambre also recalled that Duterte cancelled the fifth round of talks in May 2017 even as “all members of both panels as well third-party facilitators are already in The Netherlands.”

There have been three other attempts to hold the fifth round of formal talks in Europe, but were all cancelled by Duterte.

Last November, Duterte again cancelled at the 11th hours even after his negotiators have assembled in Europe for their third attempt at a fifth round of formal talks with the NDFP.

Duterte subsequently issued his Proclamation 360 on November 23 declaring the unilateral termination of the peace negotiations.

Even then, Duterte’s Proclamation 360 failed to follow the agreed process of talks termination, said Casambre.

“Any party can terminate the peace talks but there is a proper procedure. A written notice should be sent by the party who wants to terminate the peace talks. And there is another 30 days after receipt before the agreement is officially terminated. There was no written notice, it’s [just] a public declaration,” Casambre explained.

Duterte later added the issuance of Proclamation 374 declaring NDFP allied organizations, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA), as terrorist organizations.

Six hundred personalities were later listed by the Department of Justice as people behind the CPP and the NPA, including United Nations rapporteurs.

Bad Signal

It is not only with the NDFP that Duterte is insincere in talking peace, a Bangsamoro group said.

“For example, with the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law), even though it has been signed, we can only describe it as mangled, a sham, because the government can change it anytime. So the sincerity is a big question,”Jerome Succor Aba of SANDUGO and Moro Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA) said.

“The postponement of the peace talks brings a bad signal to the people of Mindanao. If there’s no peace talks, the human rights violations will double,” Aba said.

As the center of the armed conflict, Mindanao “calls for the resumption of the peace talks and honoring the agreements because what is happening in the peace talks have impact on the people,” Aba added.

He said, “We noticed that the time when the Proclamations 360 and 374 were issued were also the times when the military attacks in Mindanao were heightened. Since Martial Law was declared, more than 500,000 civilians evacuated from the area of conflict. Every week, farmers, Lumads and Moro are being killed.”

“What the AFP and Duterte government doesn’t realize is that Martial Law, in history, is what prompted the people to fight for freedom,” warned SANDUGO’s Kerlan Fanagel.

Disappointment and hope

Pilgrims for Peace and other peace advocates also expressed disappointment with the repeated postponement of the resumption of the formal talks.

“We want the peace negotiations to continue, to resolve the roots of the armed conflict. The bigger peace table with the Philippine citizenry has been on-going throughout the negotiations. The Filipino people want peace: both the peace that is the absence of armed conflict and, more importantly, peace that can be aided through agreeemnts like the anticipated Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforems (CASER),” the PFP statement said.

Casambre, however, said there is still hope for the peace talks.

“Yes, because there’s a people. Because when there’s a crisis, the people would make the parties go back to the peace negotiations,” Casambre said. #