By Arjay L. Balinbin
EXILED COMMUNIST leader Jose Maria C. Sison said the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) will ignore President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s request to submit a final draft peace agreement to the government, saying the President was “simply joking, stupid or crazy” when he announced his proposal last week.
“Duterte is simply joking, stupid or crazy when he publicly proposes that the NDFP submit to him a draft peace agreement for him to approve, subject to the further approval of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP (Philippine National Police),” Mr. Sison said in a statement as posted on the NDFP Web site last Saturday, Nov. 24.
Sought for comment, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza told BusinessWorld on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 25, that he had yet to relay the matter to the NDFP. “We will find that out tomorrow (Monday),” he said in a phone message.
In a separate phone message, he said: “We take guidance from what the President just said: to relay to the NDFP his call for the submission of a draft of a final peace agreement so the President can consult members of his official family like the AFP & police or security sector and other members of the cabinet….We will still officially relay this to the NDFP.”
Mr. Dureza said as well there was “no meeting agreed yet.”
Also in his statement, Mr. Sison maintained that both the NDFP and the Philippine government negotiating panels, before the President suspended the peace negotiations last June, “had already made their respective drafts of the comprehensive agreements on social and economic reforms (CASER) and on political and constitutional reforms (CAPCR) and had made substantial progress in reconciling their drafts of CASER.”
“Duterte seems to imagine that the NDFP is like China which has enough money to bribe him to let it draft a major document for his consent and approval. But he exposes further his inane mind by admitting that he would still need the ultimate approval of the military and police,” he added.
For its part, Malacañang said its lines remain open to the NDFP despite the cancelled “informal talks” in Manila this week between NDFP leaders Fidel V. Agcaoili and Luis G. Jalandoni and the government, which was supposed to be represented by Mr. Dureza and Presidential Spokesperson & Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo.
In a phone message to BusinessWorld on Saturday night, Nov. 24, Mr. Panelo said: “Peace, no matter how elusive, must be pursued for the sake of the generations to come. They must not suffer what ours have.”
He noted that the reason for the cancellation of the planned trip to Manila of Messrs. Agcaoili and Jalandoni “is grounded on their fear of arrest.”
“As we said, the President is open to ending the internecine among Filipinos. Enough bloodshed has been shed…. Such apprehension is misplaced. No arrest shall be effected during the informal talks. We await their communication to us. Our lines are open,” he said.