Duterte 'sabotaged' peace talks, claims Joma Sison
At the start of Philippine peace negotiations hosted by Norway government, Monday Aug. 22, 2016, in Oslo, Norway, with Jose Maria Sison of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, left, and Philippine peace minister Jesus Dureza, as government officials and rebels participate in the peace negotiations. Berit Roald / NTB scanpix via AP, file
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte sabotaged the peace talks with communist rebels, Jose Maria Sison, chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, said Friday.
In a post on the NDFP website, Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, said that Duterte preempted ongoing negotiations for meetings and a fifth round of formal talks in Norway this month.
He said that the panels had been working on common drafts for an agreement "after several months of hard work in unilateral and bilateral meetings" that would have been finalized in Oslo toward the end of November.
The common drafts discussed the amnesty and release of political prisoners, "coordinated unilateral ceasefires," agrarian reform and national industrialization under an envisioned Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms, he said.
Sison said the government and rebel panels "were so happy and confident that they would be able to initial the CASER and the agreements on the general amnesty and release of all political prisoners and the coordinated unilateral ceasefires at the closing session of the fifth round of formal talks and formally sign all of these at the closing ceremony of the sixth round in January 2018."
Sison, Duterte's college professor, said, however, that Duterte began "to rant every day against the CPP, [New People's Army] and the NDFP in connection with recent incidents in the armed conflict."
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Among those incidents is the death of civilians in an NPA attack against police officers in Talakag, Bukidnon on November 11. Duterte said the government "will pursue them to the ends of the world" for the deaths, particularly of an infant.
The NPA took responsibility for the deaths on November 15. "We hope that the aggrieved families and friends could find it in their hearts, however difficult, to accept our profound apologies. The local NPA unit is already exerting efforts to make amends including extending necessary indemnification," it said in a statement.
Sison said complaints over attacks should have been submitted to a Joint Monitoring Committee under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law that both sides signed in 1992.
The agreement is the framework of the peace process between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDFP.
He said the NDFP has submitted alleged violations by police and military forces to the JMC.
Sison said that instead of going through agreed channels, Duterte "cited alleged recent incidents in the armed conflict which he used as false basis for slandering the revolutionary forces and threatening the termination of the peace negotiations and the outlawing of the revolutionary forces and legal democratic forces as terrorists."
He said that Duterte also "violated the mutual agreement that talks would be discreet until there would be good news to announce at the end of the fifth or sixth round of formal talks."
Proclamation No. 360
On Thursday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced that Duterte had signed Proclamation 360 ending peace talks that were restarted last year after being scuttled in 2013.
"While we agreed to resume peace talks with the aforementioned group and exerted our best efforts to accelerate the signing and implementation of the final peace agreement, the NDF-CPP-NPA has engaged in acts of violence and hostilities," Roque said.
Roque's announcement came after the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process disclosed Wednesday that all planned meetings with the CPP-NPA-NDFP have been called off.
"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," Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said in a statement.
"Despite this setback (hopefully only temporary), we remain steadfast and undeterred in our unrelenting journey for sustainable and just peace," he also said.
Peace talks had already been called off in July over NPA attacks, including one on a Presidential Security Group convoy passing through Cotabato province. — Jonathan de Santos