DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 November) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte might decide to resume talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) if the latter would show sincerity in the peace efforts, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
“The ball is in the court of the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army). Show the requisite sincerity and the President might just consider, but for now… no more peace talks,” Roque told a media briefing in Malacañan Palace Tuesday.
Last November 23, Duterte issued Proclamation No. 360 ordering Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza and government peace negotiators to stop all peace talks with the NDF for failing to show “sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peace negotiations as it engaged on acts of violence and hostilities, endangering the lives and properties of innocent people.”
“We’ve shut the doors for now to any ongoing peace talks. I am not in a position to say that the doors will forever be shut. We need to see sincerity on the part of the CPP-NPA. Show us that you are sincere and I’m sure the president will act accordingly,” Roque added.
Both parties were supposed to resume discreetly the fifth round of peace talks on November 25 to 27, 2017 in Oslo, Norway. But Duterte decided to call it quits two weeks after the NPA ambushed a police patrol vehicle in Bukidnon last November 9, leaving two persons, including four-month old Walysha Machorao dead, and six others injured.
Machorao was with her mother aboard a Toyota Fortuner that was tailing the police vehicle.
Roque said Duterte was the only President who gave this much leeway to the communist group even to the extent of putting CPP-nominated officials in his cabinet.
The Commission on Appointments, however, rejected the appointments of former Anakpawis representative Rafael Mariano and University of the Philippines professor Judy Taguiwalo, two prominent leaders of the legal Left.
Mariano was appointed as agrarian reform secretary and Taguiwalo as social welfare secretary.
Asked whether a written notice of termination would be submitted to the NDF, Roque said it would be “superfluous” to submit one when the President already issued a proclamation.
“That’s too legalistic an approach. What else do they want? The president already issued the proclamation saying it’s been terminated. It’s not as if the NDF has a status of a state, it’s not as if we’re dealing with a treaty entered into by state parties. That’s enough that there is a formal proclamation. Whether or not they will be given a formal letter of termination, to me, that would be superfluous. Get a copy of the termination. Peace talks are over for now,” he said.
Citing the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, NDF peace panel chair Fidel V. Agcaoili said in a statement issued on November 24 that GRP-NDF peace negotiations shall be deemed terminated 30 days after receipt of the written notice of termination from the GRP.
Unless rendered ineffective, Agcaoili maintained that all immunities granted to all NDF consultants shall remain in full force and effect even if Duterte had cancelled the talks. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)