PEACE TALKS with communist rebels scheduled on June 28 have been put off, the government announced on Thursday.
In a statement issued on Thursday night, exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison said, “It is both disappointing and frustrating that the Duterte regime has unilaterally cancelled the scheduled start of the stand-down ceasefire on June 21 and the resumption of formal talks in the peace negotiations in Oslo a week later on June 28.”
“The decision for the moment, huwag na muna ituloy ang talks (the talks are put off),” Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza said at a news conference in Malacañang on Thursday afternoon.
Mr. Dureza also read a statement that went in part: “In our common effort to make sure that we achieve a conducive and enabling environment for peace, President Rodrigo Duterte instructed us last night to engage our bigger ‘peace table’ — the general public as well as other sectors in government as we work to negotiate peace with the communist rebels.”
“The government peace panel in cooperation with the private sector will continue (in) its efforts to engage those who earnestly seek peace,” Mr. Dureza’s statement also said. “(It) is equally important that the stakeholders on the ground must also be equally engaged through consultations to ensure that all those consensus points and agreements forged in the negotiations table have palpable support from them.”
In his press briefing Thursday morning, Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s joint command conference on Wednesday night with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) “dwelt on the ongoing peace talks” with the communists.
“You can appreciate that the President also wants a cooperation of our men in uniform in the peace talks, and it appears that both the PNP and the AFP are fully supportive of the peace talks; although there was a warning that in the past, the CPP-NPA will take advantage of peace talks to regroup and to strengthen their ranks,” Mr. Roque said, referring to the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military arm, the New People’s Army.
“But the President assured them that we need to give the peace talks a chance,” Mr. Roque said in part.
For his part, Mr. Sison said the Duterte administration is “not interested in serious peace negotiations with the NDFP. ”
“It is interested vainly in obtaining the NDFP capitulation under the guise of an indefinite ceasefire agreements and breaking the provision in the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on the Secuirty and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) which requires formal negotiations in a foreign neutral venue and therefore putting the negotiations under the control and under duress of an emerging fascist dictatorship and its armed minions,” he explained.
The communist leader likewise said the agreements pertaining to the aforesaid scheduled peace negotiations were signed by the respective chairpersons of the GRP and the NDFP negotiating panels, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III and Fidel V. Agcaoili, and witnessed by the Royal Norwegian special envoy Ambassador Idun Tevdt on June 9.
He also urged the two negotiating panels to release to the public and to the media the written and signed agreements “of June 9 and 10” penned by the chairpersons of “the GRP and the NDFP negotiating panels and by the members of their respective special teams.” — Arjay L. Balinbin