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Reds can’t provoke us, says Palace peace adviser

Asserting that it will “not bite the bait,” the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) brushed aside Thursday what it called “untimely public statements” made by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its political arm, the National Democratic Front (NDF), regarding the stalled peace talks with the government.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said the remarks by CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison and NDF chief peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni were “deliberately aimed at provoking the Philippine government into issuing statements that will only further heat up an already contentious discourse and further derail the [peace] process.”

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“We will not bite the bait,” Deles said, quoting Alex Padilla, chair of the government peace panel in the talks with the communist rebels.

Sison and Jalandoni “already know that our Norwegian facilitator has been in touch with both parties precisely to determine the most feasible and mutually acceptable parameters for the resumption of the peace talks,” Deles said.

On Aquino’s hands

“To give this exercise the best chance of success, we prefer not to do our talking through the media,” she told the Inquirer.

The Opapp, she added, has a “facilitator for this purpose. We will make the proper announcement at the right time.”

In an online interview on Wednesday, Jalandoni, who is in self-exile in the Netherlands, said “the ball is in the hands of the Aquino regime.”

The President “must answer to the people for the continuing disrespect of the binding peace agreements forged by the government and the CPP-NDF-NPA during the Ramos administration,” he said.

Jalandoni cited two major agreements as The Hague Joint Declaration on Safety and Immunity Guarantees signed on Feb. 24, 1995, and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law signed on March 16, 1998.

He branded the government’s alleged violation of the agreements as “scandalous.”

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‘Stubborn, stupid’

In a separate online interview, Sison, who also lives in Amsterdam, accused President Aquino and Deles of blocking the peace negotiations.

“No one can unlock their stubbornness and stupidity at this stage. They will go down in history as saboteurs of the peace process,” Sison said.

Earlier, Deles said the government had been searching for ways to restart the peace negotiations with the communist rebels “on the basis of a time-bound and doable agenda.”

She said, however, that it was “difficult to start [the talks] with preconditions.”

She was apparently referring to Jalandoni’s insistence that the rebels’ return to the negotiating table depended on the release of political prisoners jailed on criminal charges.

Deles said it was premature to talk about prisoner releases “without a full appreciation of the context and parameters of the talks now being proposed.”

“What is more important to consider is where the talks will go,” she said.

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TAGS: Communist Insurgency, CPP, Government, Jose Ma. Sison, Luis Jaloandoni, NDF, OPAPP, peace process, Teresita Deles
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