DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 04 April) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday directed the government peace panel to work on the resumption of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), Secretary Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said in a statement.
“Let’s give this another last chance,” Dureza quoted the President as saying in Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting.
Duterte called off the peace negotiations on November 23, two days before the fifth round of formal peace talks was supposed to start and in early December issued a proclamation to have the Communist Party of the Philippines and New Peoples Army declared as “terrorist organizations.”
The NDF represents the CPP and NPA in the peace negotiations.
Dureza added the President emphasized the importance of forging a ceasefire agreement to stop mutual attacks while the talks are ongoing.
The chief peace adviser added the President committed to provide support to the communist guerrillas in order to stop the so-called “revolutionary tax.” Exactly what this “support” is, Dureza did not elaborate.
Both parties were supposed to discuss the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio Economic Reforms (CASER) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CACPR) during the fifth round of talks on November 25 to 27, 2017 but it was aborted when President Duterte issued Presidential Proclamation 360 on November 23, 2017, calling off talks citing “lack of sincerity” on the part of the NPA which staged several attacks including the ambush of a police patrol car in Bukidnon on November 9 that killed four-month old Walysha Manchorao.
Before the cancellation, the two parties had already agreed on three common drafts on general amnesty and release of all political prisoners in compliance with CARHRIHL; coordinated unilateral ceasefires; and part I Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD) and part II National Industrialization and Economic Development (NIED) of CASER.
The President subsequently issued Proclamation 374 designating the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations.
Dureza did not say if this will be lifted by the President.
In a statement on Tuesday, CPP founder Jose Maria Sison said the NDFP “is sincere in engaging in peace negotiations with the GRP in order to obtain comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms to address the roots of the armed conflict and lay the basis for a just and lasting peace in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration.”
“These reforms and consequent peace are for the benefit of the Filipino people, especially for the toiling masses of workers and peasants who are the most oppressed and exploited and who therefore support the armed revolution,” he added.
“I am ready”
In a speech during the inauguration of Lisap Bridge Project in Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro, Duterte said he wants the peace talks with the rebel group to resume but he wants ceasefire and no extortion and attacks against the properties of the businessmen.
“First time ko ito nagsalita (This is my first time to speak) since Sison is always mentioning about the peace process. I am ready. First thing is we should stop killing each other. Then if we can have peace; and if you do not have the money, government will subsidize it,” he added.
Duterte also made it clear that a ceasefire both parties will agree on should allow movement of government resources into communities to allow the implementation of government projects like bridges.
“Magkaibigan tayo, alam ng buong Pilipinas ‘yan. Alam ng military, alam ng pulis na (We are friends. The entire Philippines knows, the military knows, the police knows that) that I used to cross the ideological barriers,” he added,
Sison was Duterte’s professor in Political Thought.
However, Duterte maintained that he cannot forge a coalition government with the communists “for the simple reason that I do not own the sovereign power of the state.” (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)