PEACE talks with the Reds have been cancelled, the government announced yesterday but Presidential adviser on the peace process Jesus Dureza held out hope for the revival of the negotiations.
Dureza said the talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front could still be revived if both parties would reach an “enabling environment” for negotiations.
“We are hereby announcing today the cancellation of all planned meetings with the CPP/NPA/NDF in line with President Duterte’s directive that there will be no more peace talks with them,” Dureza said in a statement.
“Recent tragic and violent incidents all over the country committed by the communist rebels left the president with no other choice but to arrive at this decision. We take guidance from the President’s recent announcements and declarations,” he added
“This is an unfortunate development in our work for peace. Never before have we all reached this far in our negotiations with them. President Duterte has taken unprecedented steps and has walked the so-called extra mile to bring peace. However, the communist party and its armed elements have not shown reciprocity,” he said.
“There will be no peace negotiations anymore with the CPP/NPA/NDF until such time as the desired enabling environment conducive to a change in the government’s position becomes evident. We will closely watch the developments,” he added.
Dureza also thanked the talks’ third party facilitator, the Royal Norwegian Government.
“We have expressed our deep gratitude to the Royal Norwegian Government for its strong support as we also expressed to their officials our regrets for this turn of events,” he said.
“Despite this setback, (hopefully only temporary) we remain steadfast and undeterred in our unrelenting journey for sustainable and just peace. I now call on everyone: ‘Let’s all stay the course together,’” he added.
With this announcement, the Department of National Defense (DND), in a separate statement, said that the government will “continue to vigorously pursue operations against their armed components.”
“We strongly suggest to the NPA to lay down their arms, surrender, return to society, and be part of the real change espoused by the national leadership,” the DND said.
Dureza’s announcement comes a day after Duterte said he had decided to “cut talks with the NPAs,” and days after the President said he planned to issue a proclamation tagging communist rebels as “terrorists.”
While he had long declared suspended talks with communists in July, and before that in February, Dureza had held out hope the talks would continue, even informally.
Duterte had also been saying in recent months he was open to resuming the peace negotiations.
Before he scuttled the peace talks Duterte spoke of a New People’s Army (NPA) ambush that killed a 4-month-old infant that appeared to be the last straw. The NPA is the armed wing of the CPP.
“Inambush nila ‘yung pulis in Mindanao tapos pati ‘yung bata na 4 months old tinamaan. Kaya napundi talaga ako,” Duterte said.