The Duterte government is now moving heaven and earth to push for localized peace talks. This is not the first time. During Corazon Aquino regime, regional talks were also held parallel to the national talks. The talks eventually collapsed after the Mendiola massacre. This was quite costly to the revolutionary movement as key regional leaders and staff were identified and profiled. Many would soon be arrested, detained, and some assassinated or disappeared. It was from this experience that lessons were drawn. All succeeding peace talks would then be held in a foreign neutral venue.
Jose Maria Sison, the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) on Monday, July 16, elaborated five reasons why the localized negotiations promoted by the Duterte government is “absurd and stupid”.
The Communist Party of the Philippines and members of the revolutionary movement in Northern Luzon dismissed the government’s call for ‘localized’ peace negotiations.
It would look like the president is afraid of losing in the peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Philippines (GPH or GRP) when he called it off again early last month. Through back channel talks it was reported that the negotiations were to resume on the 28th of June. As if using the Filipino movie line, “sandali, mahirap na, kailangang maging sigurista tayo,” and then says that he needs three months to study the papers of the talks.
A review of what happened during the back-channel talks is imperative. Last March, the GRP Panel informed the NDFP Panel that it wanted to hold informal talks to discuss how the formal talks could be resumed in June 2018. This is de facto nullification of GRP’s Proclamation 360 which unilaterally and improperly declared the “termination” not only of the formal talks but the entire peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP.
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.”
We would like to emphasize this week, the relevance of the peace talks to indigenous peoples. There is no better time, with the worsening plight of indigenous peoples, especially indigenous activists, grassroots organisations and communities asserting self-determination.
For the nth time, President Duterte unilaterally suspended the GRP-NDF peace negotiations. And for some dubious reasons – the need to consult with the bigger peace table (public); to hold the talks in the country and not in a foreign venue.
Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza is too quick to hurl accusations of irresponsible journalism against news outfits that reported that Norway would no longer be the third-party facilitator for peace talks between the government and communist rebels.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said a few days ago, “It would be best for the DND and the AFP to concentrate on the defense of the Philippines from China and the US that are now increasing their military activities in our territories instead of trying to sabotage the peace talks that can pave the way for a just and lasting peace and uplift the lives of majority of Filipinos.”
It is both disappointing and frustrating that the Duterte regime has unilaterally cancelled the scheduled start of the stand-down ceasefire on June 21 and the resumption of formal talks in the peace negotiations in Oslo a week later on June 28.
A welcome and laudable development on the peace process is evolving. On separate occasions, the Government of the Philippines (GPh) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) announced the possible signing of an interim peace agreement anytime soon.