Palace insists on holding peace talks with NDFP in PH

The GPH-NDF peace panels on Day 2 of the talks in Oslo, Norway on August 23, 2016. The reciprocal working groups on socio-economic reforms, political-constitutional reforms, end of hostilities and disposition of forces, JASIG/releases and ceasefire are meeting simultaneously on Days 3 and 4. Closing rites of the first round of formal peace talks will be held on August 26. Photo by Edwin Espejo / OPAPP

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 June) – Malacanang said peace talks between government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) must be held in the country and that there may no longer be a need for a third-party facilitator once it resumes.

In a press briefing at the Palace on Monday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the President has maintained that since the concerns Filipinos it should be resolved in the country.

The Royal Norwegian Government has been mediating the peace negotiations since 2001.

Roque said the government panel can arrange the talks, claiming “they have the authority to fix the logistics” but added any party who has been involved in the peace process is welcome to help.

“He (Duterte) does not understand why we should continue talking in Norway. We are all Filipinos. We can talk it here in the Philippines. Why do we have to leave?” he said.

In a statement, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Jose Maria Sison said the President is willfully and maliciously killing the peace negotiations by breaking the standing GRP-NDFP agreement on a foreign neutral venue and dismissing the third-party facilitator.

“He is inflaming the civil war in the Philippines to justify his fascist dictatorship. He really does not want to have the peace negotiations,” Sison, also the NDFP’s chief political consultant, said.

Sison said Duterte knows very well that the NDFP will never submit itself to “surveillance, control and duress by his bloody regime and his military and police butchers and death squads.”

“He is hell-bent on scapegoating the CPP and NPA to justify his methods of fake surrenders and mass murders and enable him to impose on the people martial law nationwide and fascist dictatorship,” he added.

Roque said Duterte has guaranteed the safety of Sison, his professor in Political Thought, and even vowed to shoulder the self-exiled CPP leader’s expenses if he comes home to the Philippines to talk peace.

The President has also promised to personally take Sison to the airport if the negotiations would fail, he said.

The resumption of the 5thround of peace talks will no longer push through on June 28-30 as scheduled earlier, after Duterte instructed the GRP peace panel to engage the “bigger table” first before they would work out agreements with the communist leaders.

“It was the President alone who wanted to review certain matters in connection with the peace talks,” Roque said.

He said the President assured “the nation that he has always given top priority to peace talks with both the Muslim insurgents and the populists’ insurgents and he has not given up on the process at all.”

He said any peace agreement, especially with the CPP-NPA must be inclusive and must pass the test of both legal and political scrutiny.

“The delay thus in the talks with the CPP-NPA is indispensable if we have, if we are to have an agreement that will pass these tests. it would help if Mr Joma Sison would allow the government to be the one to brief the nation on any future developments,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)