PRESIDENT Duterte has ordered the government peace panel to work for the resumption of peace talks with the National Democratic Front months after it was stalled over mutual accusations of bad faith, an official said.
“Let’s give this another last chance,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza quoted Duterte in a statement on Wednesday.
Dureza said Duterte, in a cabinet meeting held on the same day, emphasized the importance of forging a ceasefire agreement between the two parties to stop armed hostilities while the talks are ongoing.
He said the President committed to provide support to the communist guerrillas to stop “revolutionary taxation.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Communist Party founding chair Jose Maria Sison said the NDF “is sincere in engaging in peace negotiations with the GRP in order to obtain comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms to address the roots of the armed conflict and lay the basis for a just and lasting peace in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration.”
“These reforms and consequent peace are for the benefit of the Filipino people, especially for the toiling masses of workers and peasants who are the most oppressed and exploited and who therefore support the armed revolution,” he added.
In a speech, Duterte said he wants the peace talks with the NDF to resume but he demanded a ceasefire and a stop to collection of “revolutionary taxes” and attacks against companies by the NPA.
“This is my first time to speak since Sison is always mentioning about the peace process. I am ready. First thing is we should stop killing each other. Then if we can have peace, and if you do not have the money, government will subsidize it,” Duterte said.
He said a mutual ceasefire should allow the entry of government resources into communities for projects like bridges.
“We are friends. The entire Philippines knows, the military knows, the police knows that I used to cross the ideological barriers,” he said.
Sison was Duterte’s professor in Political Thought.
Duterte, however, maintained that he cannot forge a coalition government with the communists “for the simple reason that I do not own the sovereign power of the state.”
Both parties were supposed to discuss the agreements on socioeconomic and political reforms during the aborted fifth round of talks on Nov. 25 to Nov. 27 last year. But Duterte issued Proclamation 360 on Nov. 23, 2017 calling off the talks in response to the ambush of a police patrol car in Bukidnon on Nov. 9 by the NPA that killed two people, including four-month old Walysha Manchorao. The infant and her mother rode in a separate vehicle that was tailing the police car.
The President subsequently issued Proclamation 374 designating the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations.
Dureza did not mention if Duterte would lift the terror tag.
Before the talks collapsed the two parties had already agreed on three common drafts on general amnesty and release of all political prisoners in compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, coordinated unilateral ceasefires, part I Agrarian Reform and Rural Development and part II National Industrialization and Economic Development.
Peace negotiations with the NDF started during the administration of Corazon Aquino.
The NPA, considered the longest running communist insurgency in Asia, has been waging an armed struggle since 1969. (antonio colina IV of mindanews)