Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza and government peace panel chair Silvestre Bello III announced Sunday night, May 28 (around 1am Monday Philippine time) that the government is maintaining its position that it will not participate in the fifth round of peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines scheduled to take place at the Radisson Blu Palace Hotel in Noordwijk Aan Zee, The Netherlands. (Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano/davaotoday.)

NOORDWIJK AAN ZEE, The Netherlands — The government peace panel has finally sealed the fate of the fifth round of talks by withdrawing from it.

Around 7pm Sunday (1am, Monday Philippine time), Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza announced in a press conference here that the government will maintain its position not to participate in the fifth round of the peace talks with communists as it saw “no compelling reason” for them to participate in the talks which supposedly opened on Saturday, May 27.

Over the weekend, the Parties tried to deliberate on the “serious challenges” brought up by the government concerning its decision not to join the fifth round of talks.

Panel to panel meetings were held since Saturday evening.  Another session was made after the negotiators attended a mass Sunday morning.

However, on Sunday evening, the government said they saw no “progression” on the situation which prompted them to withdraw from the fifth round.

“In behalf of the negotiating panel of the government of the Republic of the Philippines let me state that we are maintaining the decision made not to participate in the fifth round of talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. There are no compelling reasons for us to change that decision that we have arrived at and which we announced yesterday (May 27),” Dureza said.

Dureza added there was “no change of situation” since yesterday relating to the position of the government that the CPP should rescind its order to the NPAs to intensify attacks amid Martial Law declaration in Mindanao.

Dureza said they see no “enabling environment” for them to participate in this round of talks. But he said all the previous agreements signed with the NDFP will still be honored by the government.

“The decision is not to participate in the fifth round of talks. We will see how this will impact on the whole gamut of the peace process,” he said.

Dureza said even when there are no formal talks the peace process continues which covers other “paths to peace.”

Secretary Silvestre Bello III added that they are “withdrawing from the fifth round of talks” but not terminating the talks.

Bello: Duterte was ‘very assertive’

Bello said President Rodrigo Duterte was “very assertive” when they communicated to him from the Netherlands.

Dureza added that the President’s decision was “sobra pa sa buo (firm).”

He said all the panel’s decisions were vetted with the President.

Bello described cancellation of the fifth round of talks a “temporary setback on the peace negotiations.”

“I’ve been in the process for 15 years, as you’ve said there are humps and bumps, I become immune to these occurrences,” he said.(

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