Disappointing, Joma says of deferred talks

Published June 14, 2018, 9:18 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Francis Wakefield

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sisondescribed as “disappointing and frustrating” the unilateral cancellation by the Duterte administration of the scheduled start of the stand-down ceasefire on June 21 and the resumption of formal talks in the peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway on June 28.


In a statement, Sison said the written agreements pertaining to the scheduled events have been signed by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello and Fidel V. Agcaoili, chairpersons of the Philippine government and the NDFP negotiating panels respectively last June 9 and witnessed by the Royal Norwegian special envoy Ambasador Idun Tevdt.

“I urge the two negotiating panels to release to the public and to the press the written and signed agreements of June 9 and 10 signed by the chairmen of the GRP and NDFP negotiating panel and by the members of their respective special teams,” Sison said.

Sison said it is starkly clear that the GRP under President Rodrigo Duterte is not interested in serious peace negotiations with the NDFP.

He charged that the Duterte administration is interested mainlyin obtaining the NDFP capitulation under the guise of indefinite ceasefire agreements and breaking the provision in the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on the Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) which requires formal negotiations in a foreign neutral venue and therefore putting the negotiations under the control and under duress of an emerging fascist dictatorship and its armed minion.

“Because the GRP under Duterte is obviously not interested in serious peace negotiations, the revolutionary forces and the people have no choice but to single mindedly wage people’s war to achieve the national and social liberation of the Filipino people,” Sison said.

Public consultation

Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (PAPP) secretary Jesus Dureza announced during a press briefing in Malacañang Thursday that the government has “reset” the scheduled talks after President Duterte advised the peace panel to engage the “bigger table”, to hear out the stakeholders through consultations to ensure all consensus points and agreements to be forged between GRP and NDFP peace panels would get the support of the people.

No date has been set by the government side for the resumption of the talks, Dureza said

Dureza explained that they could not just ignore the public as they “take full advantage of this last opportunity” given by the President to end to the decades-long communist rebellion.

He maintained that just, sustainable, and lasting peace could be attained if the people would understand and support these efforts.

“Our peace efforts to succeed should have good support from the general public, hence, it is necessary that all efforts be exerted to inform first and engage them in the same way as the government engages the rebels in addressing the root causes of conflict,” Dureza added.

To ensure that the last chance will not be “squandered away,” he said that they must learn from the failures of the 50 years of “intermittent and often times disrupted” peace talks to prevent similar pitfalls of the past.

Dureza added GRP panel would also consult several sectors, including the private sector, non-government organization, local government units, and Regional Peace and Order Councils, on all consensus points and agreements forged in the negotiations, as they did for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

“We cannot have a peace agreement and have a vacuum support from the public,” he added.
Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Zarate said the delay in the peace talks with the NDFP would only allow the peace saboteurs to their thing.

“The longer it takes for the [peace] talks to restart, the peace spoilers and saboteurs would also have a longer time to sabotage the process,” noted Zarate, a stalwart of the leftist Makabayan bloc. (With reports from Antonio L. Colina IV and Ellson A. Quismorio)