No such peace deal with Reds, says negotiator
A top government peace negotiator has belied claims by a communist leader that the Aquino administration and the communist rebels had come close to signing a peace agreement in December 2014.
“There was no peace deal,” government peace panel chair Alexander Padilla said in a statement on Friday. “Much less one that was rejected by President Aquino and presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Deles,” he added.
But Padilla admitted that there were attempts by a “private group” to restart the peace talks at the end of 2014, about the same time the government seemed to be making gains in its negotiations with Muslim secessionist rebels in the southern Philippines. However, Padilla said attempts to restart talks never got off the ground.
Padilla said his counterpart in the negotiations, self-exiled rebel leader Luis Jalandoni, was “not telling the whole story” when he claimed that the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military and political wings—the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front—had come close to signing a peace agreement in 2014.
“What happened was that in December 2014, a group of private individuals who were considered “friends of the process” shuttled between the two parties to explore possible parameters for restarting the talks, Padilla said.
“It was this private group that initialed a proposed agreement subject to approval by the two panels,” Padilla related.
Padilla did not identify who these “friends of the process,” but Jalandoni claimed this was the group of former Agrarian Reform Secretary Hernani Braganza.
Padilla said the government was studying the proposal and, in fact, was prepared to discuss it with the NDF panel in January 2015.
Padilla said the “private group” went to Utrecht in the Netherlands where CPP leaders Jalandoni and Jose Maria Sison are based in February 2015 and returned with a counter proposal from the NDF.
The leftist rebels responded with a “stronger demand for the release of hundreds of its leaders and followers in detention, the withdrawal or dismissal of cases against their detained alleged consultants, and other pre-conditions,” he said.
Padilla said the proposed resumption of talks “did not pan out.”
He said government emissaries tried two more times in 2015 to talk to the NDF based on proposals made by Norway, the facilitator of the peace talks, “to no avail.”
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