Presidential Assistant for the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza clarified that the peace talks are not yet dead in the water despite the recommendation of the military to cut off all communications with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
In a statement, Dureza said that they have a marching order from President Rodrigo Duterte to lay down the following conditions first:
1. There will be no coalition government.
2. There will be a stop in the collection of the so-called revolutionary tax.
3. The venue of the talks will be local.
4. There will be a ceasefire agreement in which armed NPA members are encamped in designated areas.
He also said that local government units may pursue “localized peace arrangements … in their respective areas of responsibility.”
Last year, Mayor Sara Duterte already reached out to the NPA leaders operating in the city to raise the possibility of localized peace negotiations. However, the initiative was scuttled when President Duterte moved to declare the NPA as a terrorist organization.
Since then, Mayor Duterte said that it’s her policy to never negotiate with terrorists.
Col. Edgard Arevalo, the Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson, said on Tuesday that they will recommend to Malacanang to terminate the peace talks with the CPP-NDF.
He said in a Philippine News Agency report that the communist rebels have been taking advantage of the peace negotiations to “regroup, refurbish, recruit, and recover lost grounds” or what he termed as the 4Rs.
“We discovered the duplicity of Mr. Sison and his ilk from recovered documents and statements of rebel surrenderers. The peace talk espoused by Mr. Sison and his coterie is only a ploy for their cadres and militias to do the 4Rs,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a statement this past Monday, Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana revealed that the CPP-NDF has been playing the government far too long considering that it’s hatching a three-year plan to topple President Duterte.
Lorenzana also said that the peace talks with the CPP-NDF will likely bear fruit without founding chair Jose Maria Sison in the picture.
“Mr. Sison, you know that the peace talks is the only thing that is keeping you in the limelight. Without it, you are irrelevant,” the statement added. “You also know that the President can terminate the talks, and this is why you are desperately using reverse psychology and intimidation to save it.”
Meanwhile, NDF chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said that Lorenza, Local Governments Secretary Eduardo Ano, and presidential spokesman Harry Roque are confusing the public with their statements. He said that President Duterte already terminated the peace talks with his Proclamation 360, and that order was never rescinded.
Rey Claro Casambre, executive director of the Philippine Peace Center, said the preconditions showed the “utter ignorance” and “high-handed arrogance” of the Duterte administration.
“These preconditions are absurd because they ignore or deny the basic factual premise that a civil war has been raging for the past fifty years,” he said in a statement, adding that both sides already agreed to resolve the conflict on the negotiating table.
“To impose such preconditions on the NDFP is tantamount to demanding its capitulation or surrender, and therefore unacceptable,” he added.
He said it is the basic characteristic of any negotiation to find a common ground to hammer out a win-win solution to advance a mutual interest.