DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 5 July) – Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (PAPP) Secretary Jesus Dureza said the doors for the resumption of the peace talks between government (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) are still open but the communists must agree to the conditions of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
In a statement on Thursday, Dureza said the President maintained that there would be no coalition government with the communists while the New People’s Army (NPA) should stop the collection of the so-called revolutionary tax.
Another condition was the venue of the GRP-NDFP talks should be in the country and both parties should agree on a ceasefire agreement in which armed NPA members, the armed wing, are encamped in designated areas, he said.
On June 14, Dureza said Duterte told his government panel to postpone the scheduled resumption of the fifth round of peace talks with the NDFP on June 28 in Oslo, Norway to consult the public first before they would work out agreements with the communists.
That was the third time the fifth round was cancelled.
The GRP cancelled the November 25 to 27, 2017 peace talks with the President’s Proclamation 360, citing the Left’s “lack of sincerity” following an NPA ambush that killed four-month-old Walysha Manchorao, and similar incidents.
The President subsequently signed Proclamation 374, designating the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and NPA as terrorist organizations.
Dureza said local government units may undertake the localized peace talks with the communist guerrillas operating in their respective areas of responsibility.
He added the “way forward” in the stalled peace talks was decided following the consolidation of various positions expressed during the command conference convened by the President on Wednesday in Malacañang Palace.
Dureza added that Duterte expressed his wish that Norway continues its role as the party facilitator to the GRP-NDFP peace talks.
In a statement, the CPP said Dureza’s claim that Duterte’s doors for resuming peace talks with the NDFP “are still open” is an outright lie and a “PR stunt to obscure the fact that the GRP has repeatedly terminated the talks and make it appear that it is the NDFP which closed its doors.”
The communists stressed that Proclamation 360 has not been rescinded.
“In his statement today, Dureza laid down Duterte’s condition that in the event that talks do resume, it should be held in a local venue. By making this demand, Duterte is driving another nail to completely shut down the NDFP-GRP peace talks,” it added.
The communists maintained holding the peace talks in a local venue 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.”
“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,” it said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)