DAVAO CITY, Philippines –The talks between the Philippine government and the Communists is still on a deadlock as President Rodrigo Duterte insisted that negotiations with the revolutionary movement will only resume if the New People’s Army (NPA) will declare a ceasefire.
“There will be no talks until you declare a ceasefire. Period,” Duterte said in his speech at the 17th founding anniversary of Digos City on Friday, September 8.
The President said the peace negotiations with the communists will remain halted as long as the NPAs do not stop from conducting offensive attacks against government troops.
“If you want peace talks to resume, you declare a ceasefire oath. And if you say you want another war, be my guest,” the tough-talking chief executive said.
The fifth round of the peace negotiations between the Duterte administration and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines were supposed to resume in August or with negotiators on both sides working on backchannel talks.
However, the government called off the backchannel talks after an encounter between the NPAs and members of the Presidential Security Group in Arakan.
It can be recalled that in May this year, Duterte has ordered the peace talks to be scrapped after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed that communist rebels have intensified their attacks in the hinterlands.
CPP says Duterte’s demand is unacceptable
Meanwhile, the communists have questioned the sincerity of the government in pursuing just and lasting peace in the country, amid the implementation of Martial Law in Mindanao and the government’s push for the NPA’s to declare a ceasefire.
In a statement on Saturday, September 9, the Communist Party of the Philippines said Duterte’s demand for a ceasefire, “while the AFP conducts all-out war” is a demand to surrender.
“This is an unacceptable. Does Duterte really take the revolutionary forces for fools?” the CPP said.
The CPP reiterated that past negotiations between the government and the NDFP can proceed even while “civil war rages.”
It added that revolutionary forces remain open to negotiations to attain a just and lasting peace but the negotiations will not fruitful if the President “remains obsessed with Oplan Kapayapaan and demanding NPA capitulation.”
The fifth round of talks is supposed to tackle the social and economic reforms, particularly on agrarian reform and rural development (ARRD) and the next two important sections of the CASER draft — national industrialization and economic development (NIED) and environmental protection, rehabilitation and compensation.
With the peace talks with the Communists in virtual limbo, Malacañang on Thursday described its relationship with the Philippine Left as a “little bit complicated.”
“If we are going to work together, then there must be some form of agreement. And apparently, at this stage, it’s a little bit… ‘complicated,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella told a press conference on September 7.
Abella’s statement came after the Makabayan bloc said that it will reassess its ties with the supermajority at the House of Representatives following the Commission on Appointments’ rejection of two cabinet officials endorsed by the Left, namely: Agrarian chief Rafael Mariano and Social Welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo.
The CPP called Taguiwalo and Mariano’s rejection by the Commission on Appointments as “purging” after the President “failed to entice” the NDFP to give up its principles in the peace talks.
The Party said the removal of the leftist in the Cabinet shows “that Duterte’s pretensions and promises of change are nothing but empty bluster.”(davaotoday.com)