Philippines suspends talks with National Democratic Front
The Philippine government has suspended the fifth round of peace talks with the National Democratic Front, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines in Noordwijk, the Netherlands on Saturday.
In a statement, Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza emphasized “the serious development” that caused the government panel to suspend negotiations is the recent announcement of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) for its ground forces to intensify attacks against government forces.
Dureza said this “most serious development of late” puts “in great jeopardy as to whether or not we can still keep the course of peace in the peace table is the blatant publicly announced decision of the CPP, the political organ of our counterparts across the table who are here with us, ordering their forces on the ground to accelerate and intensify attacks against the government in the face of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao which was principally directed at extremists and terrorists who openly and defiantly challenge the government and put to harm the Filipino people triggered by the still ongoing violent incident in Islamic City of Marawi in Mindanao,” Dureza said.
Dureza laid down the government’s conditions to resume the peace talks.
“By such defiant, blatant and serious challenge by the CPP NPA NDF directed at the government under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte despite all these gains in our work for peace and despite the personal show of goodwill and trust that the president no less has extended to the leaders of the CPP,” he said.
Thus, Dureza said the government panel “is now left without any other recourse but to announce with due respect to our counterparts across the table and to our facilitator the Royal Norwegian government that it will not proceed to participate in the scheduled 5th rounds of peace negotiations until such time as there are clear indications that an enabling environment conducive to achieving just and sustainable peace in the land through peace negotiations across this table shall prevail.”.
ANC reported that both sides were at lunch break as of 7pm Saturday.
This comes as six militiamen were wounded as a land mine planted by alleged New People’s Army in Bukidnon exploded Saturday morning.
Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesman of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said troops were conducting routine combat patrol operation in the vicinity of Mount Kitanglad when the land mine exploded in Brgy Laportuna Impasug-ong, Bukidnon around 7:30 am.
Dureza also expressed the gratitude of the Philippine government peace panel to the Norwegian government who facilitated the peace negotiation.
“We thank the Royal Norwegian government which has so far steadfastly and fully supported our joint work for peace for so long. I trust it will understand why we at the Philippine government side have arrived at this decision,” he said.
Dureza cited some serious challenge that must be addressed including “the noticeable upscale of incidents of offensive actions of the NPA’s throughout the country.”
“The seeming perception of the bigger public that this NPA operation are in open and public defiance of President Duterte who has consistently accommodated them in unprecedented way, next is the renewed surfacing of public apprehension questioning the sincerity of the CPP-NPA-NDF in the peace talks,” said Dureza.
“The disturbing public admission of some panel members of the CPP NPA NDF leaders that they have no control over their forces on the ground. The sudden and perceptible erosion of public support to the peace talks with strong messages received from the public to altogether stop peace negotiations,” he noted.
“The clamor now to pursue instead localized peace talks and the latest and recent President’s public statement that they will no longer signed agreements with the CPP- NPA-NDF if all of this will continue and not addressed,” he added.
Dureza said “all of these developments put at great risk” their “efforts to stay the course of peace.” Robina Asido/DMS