By SHERWIN DE VERA
BAGUIO CITY — In astatement last June 17, the Communist Party of the Philippines said that President Rodrigo Duterte’s cancelation of the scheduled resumption of peace negotiations this month is “primarily in consideration of the AFP’s ongoing campaign plan for all-out military offensive” and allow the state forces to “complete its military campaign plan for 2018.”
The group believes that AFP is already set to launch larger military campaigns against the New People’s Army (NPA) to pressure the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to “negotiate surrender.”
Whimsical and absurd
On June 14, Secretary Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process announced the resumption of talks will not commenced as scheduled. The next day, Duterte himself affirmed the non-continuation of the negotiations that was set on June 28.
The government had given the press and public different reasons for the withdrawal to the set resumption. Among these reasons are to give time for public consultation, in consideration of the military’s request and the president is not yet ready.
In an earlier statement, NDFP’s Agcaoili said that they are “certainly not been remised in consulting with the public at large,” citing the group’s draft of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). He claimed the document “was a product of nationwide consultations over a period of years.”
The CPP dismissed the government’s explanations as whimsical and absurd, pointing that Duterte is “merely concealing his disinterest in implementing the stand-down agreement and seriously pursuing formal peace negotiations.” They are convinced the real reason is the government’s intent to intensify operations against the revolutionary movement.
The CPP noted the president cancelled the resumption of the negotiations “after being briefed on the status of Oplan Kapayapaan in a meeting with the top brass of the AFP and defense officials.” Prior statements from Malacañang and military officials implied that Duterte was indeed meeting the military and police officials prior to his order to the GRP panel not to push through with the schedule.
“Even now, the AFP is mounting large-scale offensives nationwide, laying siege on several hundred rural barangays, targeting civilian populations, occupying schools and barangay halls, and unleashing its fascist brute force against unarmed people. The AFP carries out aerial bombings, artillery shelling, drone flying and other methods of intimidating the masses,” said the CPP.
The communist group cited Talaingod, Davao del Norte, where three battalion of army forces are occupying three barangays. Focused military operations are also on going in Moro areas surrounding the Liguasan Marsh, Quezon town, Bukidnon; Bilar town, Bohol, General Nakar and several towns in Bondoc Peninsula in Quezon.
“Extrajudicial killings and other grave abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law run rampant,” added the CPP.
Meanwhile, responding positively to the appeal of Jose Maria Sison, Chief Political Consultant of the NDFP to both panels to allow the public and press to view the backchannel documents, the reds peace panel released copies to the media. The said documents are: the Stand Down Agreement, Guidelines and Procedures towards an Interim Peace Agreement and the Resumption of Talks and its attached timetable, Initialed Interim Peace Agreement, and the NDFP’s Proposed Draft of the Amnesty Proclamation given to the GRP and the Third Party Facilitator.
Fidel Agcaoili, chair of the NDFP’s negotiating panel said the distribution of the document are aimed at promoting the interest of the public to “truth and transparency” with the GRP’s decision to postpone the talks.
A quick scan of the documents show significant points of agreement on how the negotiations can push through despite existing challenges. Among these arrangements are the “Stand-Down Agreement” and the initialed “Interim Peace Agreement”.
The former means both parties, including their armed personnel, will temporarily cease hostilities, stay where they are, be on active defense, and stop their offensives or operations. While the latter contains the “Roadmap to Peace and General Schedule” that intends to “accelerate the negotiations”, and for the parties to “cooperate in facilitating” the demand of Duterte for Sison to come to the country.
Cancellation of the talks has brought frustrations and concerns not only to the revolutionary movement. Peace advocates have also expressed strong sentiments against the unilateral pronouncement made by the Duterte government.
Bayan Muna Representative expressed concern that “saboteurs are already working hard now that they initially succeeded in delaying the peace negotiations.”
He was dismayed that the Duterte government gave in to those who “monkey wrenched” the talks and did not give consideration with the seriousness of both panels to resume the talks.
National indigenous peoples organization KATRIBU, also expressed their contempt over the cancellation.
“Again Duterte hangs the resumption of peace talks with the NDFP… abruptly cancels the peace talks when both peace panels have resolved hindrances and reached positive agreements for its formal resumption,” the group said in a statement.
Zarate and Katribu challenged Duterte to resist the militarist section of his government and resume the peace negotiations immediately. # nordis.net