COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/07 February) — The Government of the Republic of the Philippines served on Tuesday to the National Democratic Front its notice of termination of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
In a statement, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said President Duterte instructed them to serve the notice following his pronouncement of the cancellation of peace talks with the NDF.
“Despite the cancellation of the peace talks, the Duterte administration remains committed in its peace efforts by continuing with resolve to explore all opportunities to intensify implementation of genuine reforms for the benefit of the people, particularly socio-economic programs in conflict-affected communities,” the statement said.
“It (government) shall also continue to pursue other paths to peace and undertake all forms of peace initiatives and peacebuilding efforts at the national, regional and local levels to keep the peace,” it added.
In a statement Tuesday, Fidel Agcaoili, chair of the NDF negotiating panel confirmed that they have received the notice through OPAPP Secretary Jesus Dureza.
“We intend to acknowledge it today to enable the 30-day grace period to run,” Agcaoili said.
But the NDF official said he found the notice odd “since it only terminates the JASIG and not the peace negotiations but has the same effect.”
“It is not like the written notice of termination sent by President Estrada before. But Dureza’s notice will do in effectively terminating the peace negotiations.
“This is not the first time that an all out war has been declared against the revolutionary forces. President Cory Aquino did it in 1987 after the Mendiola massacre. Estrada too after signing the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement). We are used to these threats. The revolutionary movement will persist and continue the struggle for the national and social liberation of the Filipino people to bring about a just and lasting peace in the country,” he said.
The JASIG served to protect NDF leaders and staffers, including those who were released on bail to allow them to take part in the negotiations as consultants, from hostile government actions like harassment, arrest and interrogation.
Under JASIG, said NDF personalities shall be given safe conduct passes and may use aliases.
Peace negotiations between the government and the NDF collapsed after both parties announced last week they were terminating their unilateral ceasefire declarations. They accused each other of bad faith.
On Wednesday last week, the CPP-NPA said it was terminating the unilateral ceasefire because the government “has complied the non-compliance by government with its obligation to amnesty and release of political prisoners,” and has “treacherously taken advantage of the unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire to encroach on the territory of the people’s democratic government.”
It said government forces have continued to “engage in hostile actions, provocations or movements, surveillance and other offensive operations that are labelled as ‘peace and development’, ‘civil-military’, ‘peace and order’, ‘anti drugs campaign’, ‘medical missions’ or ‘law enforcement’.”
Two days after, Duterte responded by ending too the government’s unilateral ceasefire citing the NPA attacks in parts of Mindanao that left some soldiers, including an Army lieutenant, dead.
The President on Sunday night suspended the talks and called the NDF a “terrorist group”. (MindaNews)