(UPDATED 7:30 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines — The administration made true the words of President Rodrigo Duterte against leftists and rebels by ending all talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front.
“We are hereby announcing today the cancellation of all planned meetings with the CPP/NPA/NDF in line with President Duterte’s directive that there will be no more peace talks with them,” said Jesus Dureza, head of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), in a statement issued Wednesday, Nov. 22.
The OPAPP chief said “recent tragic and violent incidents all over the country committed by the communist rebels left the President with no other choice but to arrive at this decision.”
“We take guidance from the President’s recent announcement and declarations. This is an unfortunate development in our work for peace. Never before have we all reached this far in our negotiations with them,” said Dureza.
Agcaoili: Meetings, not the negotiation
For his part, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili told a Kodao Media ng Bayan dispatch what was apparently canceled are “further meetings between the parties and not the peace negotiations itself.”
“At any rate, the people are clamoring for a just peace and not the peace of the grave in the struggle for national and social liberation against foreign domination, landlordism and corruption,” Agcaoili said.
“The Duterte regime has chosen to go against such clamor. This is its own lookout,” he added.
During a tribute to fallen soldiers in Taguig City on Tuesday, Duterte said he would abandon the peace talks with communists as he threatened to close mining firms that were paying the so-called revolutionary tax to the rebels.
“As of yesterday, I have decided to cut talks with the NPAs…I told Dureza and government chief negotiator Silvestre) Bello: ‘You tell the guys there in Netherlands, I am no longer available for any official talk. Giyera na lang tayo [Let’s just wage war],” he said.
On Wednesday, Dureza said Duterte had “taken unprecedented steps and has walked the so-called extra mile to bring peace. However, the Communist Party and its armed elements have not shown reciprocity.”
“There will be no peace negotiations anymore with the CPP/NPA/NDF until such time as the desired enabling environment conducive to a change in the government’s position becomes evident,” he added.