Communist Party rejects termination of peace talks
DAVAO CITY – The Communist Party of the Philippines rejected the termination of peace negotiations with the government and expressed optimism both parties would meet again this month.
In a statement issued on Monday, the CPP said the revolutionary movement was still seeking the continuation of the peace process to address the root causes of the 48-year-old conflict.
“The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) joins the Filipino people in rejecting the declaration the other night of GRP President Rodrigo Duterte that he will terminate peace negotiations between the GRP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and that he is dissolving his negotiating panel,” the CPP said.
On Saturday night, the President terminated the peace negotiations and ordered the government panel to come home from the Netherlands after a series of attacks by New Peoples’ Army (NPA) rebels on soldiers.
In one incident, alleged NPA rebels brutally murdered three unarmed soldiers doing community development work in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, on Feb. 1. The next day, suspected NPA rebels abducted two soldiers in Sultan Kudarat.
After the killing of the three soldiers, who were reportedly shot an average 24 times each, Duterte terminated the talks and ordered the military to prepare for a “long war.”
The CPP is saying that they have not agreed to ending the talks.
“Having not received any formal notice of termination from the GRP, however, we consider as standing the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. We continue to look forward to scheduled talks on February 22-24 and April 2-6,” the CPP said.
Both parties agreed during the third round of talks in Rome last month that they would meet again in The Netherlands on February 22-24 to discuss the crafting of a bilateral ceasefire agreement, and on April 2-6 for the fourth round of talks.
It is expected in the fourth round that major points will be agreed that will lead to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms.
Meanwhile, the CPP expressed concern over the threat of Mr. Duterte to re-arrest and detain NDFP peace consultants without bail.
One consultant, Ariel Arbitrario, was apprehended by soldiers in Davao City on Monday morning.
“If carried out, these shall be considered as gross acts of treachery and grave violations of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). The JASIG was reaffirmed by the Duterte regime and the NDFP just a few months ago. It guarantees non-reprisal against each other’s peace personnel,” the CPP said.
The CPP said Mr. Duterte’s statement might be a spur of the moment decision without considering the many gains achieved after the resumption of the negotiations.
“His decision was made clearly without judicious consideration of the advise of his peace panel, and coming at the heels of a successful third round of peace talks in Rome, Italy just over a week ago,” the CPP said.
Despite the stumbling blocks, the CPP reaffirmed its commitment to explore peacefully ways to address the social, economic and political problems beleaguering the country.
“The Party and all revolutionary forces are one with the Filipino people in their aspiration for a just peace. The offices of the negotiating panel of the NDFP shall remain open to continue to explore the possibility of reopening peace negotiations with the Duterte government, both on the CASER as well as on the matter of a bilateral ceasefire simultaneous with release of political prisoners,” the CPP said. CBB/rga