Duterte using flimsy excuses to cancel talks – communist rebels
DAVAO CITY — The National Democratic Front has accused President Rodrigo Duterte of using the “flimsiest reason” to terminate the peace talks.
Duterte earlier said that he was suspending the back-channel talks until such time the New People’s Army stopped attacking government forces.
But Fidel Agcaoili, the NDFP peace panel chair, said they remained committed to the peace process despite developments on the ground.
He pointed out that even when the military attacked rebel positions, the NDF did not back out of the talks.
“The NDFP did not cancel the talks despite the killing of six NPA fighters and two civilians in Campostela Valley last 12 July and the massacre of a family in the same province a few days later,” Agcaoili told the Inquirer.
The military’s 10th Infantry Division reported earlier that eight bodies of suspected New People’s Army guerrillas and six high-powered rifles were recovered from the scene of the gun battle in Laak town.
In another incident, Carolina Arado was killed while her husband, daughter, and two grandchildren were in critical condition after armed men opened fire at their house in the municipality of Mabini, also in Compostela Valley.
The Arado couple were active members of a local farmers’ group that opposed the entry of large-scale mining and alleged abuses by government forces in the area.
The 10th ID denied any responsibility over the attacks, asserting that the NPA’s allegations were meant to “besmirch the good image of the military.”
But Agcaoili said these were just two attacks among several, where communities and even the NPA were directly targeted.
“The GRP seems so eager to terminate the peace negotiations even using the flimsiest of all excuses to cancel the backchannel talks,” Agcaoili said.
Hostilities are expected because the armed conflict is still active and the agreements, including a ceasefire deal, are still being negotiated, according to Agcaoili.
“In the first place, there is no ceasefire in place, whether unilateral or bilateral, between the GRP and the NDFP,” Agcaoili said.
He also slammed the directive from the Office of the Solicitor General to rearrest peace consultants, who participated in the negotiations.
“With the cancellation of the back-channel talks comes the order by the Solicitor General to rearrests the consultants in blatant violation of the JASIG,” Agcaoili said.
“If the GRP is so determined to terminate the negotiations, it can avail of the pertinent provision in the JASIG to do so, and not engage in subterfuge and threats in an attempt to force the NDFP to capitulate to its demands,” he added. SFM
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