Termination of peace talks ‘unfair,’ ‘unjust’ –NDFP

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The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) cried foul over the Government of the Republic of the Philippine’s (GRP) termination of the peace talks, saying that there was “no fair and just reason” for it, less than two weeks after the successful third round of talks in Rome, Italy.

Fidel Agcaoili, chair of the NDFP negotiating panel, enumerated the gains of the peace talks so far, including reaching common points of understanding in the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

Both panels have “agreed in principle to the free distribution of land to farmers and farm workers,” said Agcaoili. The deadline for a final CASER common draft was set for the end of 2017.

He also cited the activation of the Joint Monitoring Committee, which will monitor violations of human rights, as well as the scheduled discussion of the draft bilateral ceasefire of both panels this February in The Netherlands.

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte had earlier expressed his desire for a bilateral ceasefire as an outcome of the last round of talks.

“The recommendation of the GRP negotiating panel to proceed with the talks as scheduled should have been heeded instead of the lies and warmongering of the peace spoilers,” Agcaoili said.

The NDFP also clarified that it is refusing to acknowledge receipt of the letter of termination of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) sent by Secretary Jesus Dureza on February 7, saying that the letter should have been addressed to NDFP National Executive Committee through its negotiating panel, and sent by mail or courier to the NDFP Information Office in The Netherlands.

“The NDFP cannot be a party to an unjust, unreasonable and improper termination of the JASIG,” Agcaoili said.

CPP: Duterte crushed aspirations for peace

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) also condemned the arbitrary termination of the peace negotiations, saying that Duterte “crushed the people’s aspirations for peace.”

In a statement, the CPP expressed regret at how the president “wasted the achievements” attained by both panels over the past few months.

It denied President Duterte’s claim that he has “done everything” to advance the peace talks, and said that he had “in fact done very little.”

“Indeed, he released 18 NDFP consultants, because otherwise he would have no one to talk to. But, as Duterte is now proving, the consultants were never completely free as they constantly were under threat of rearrest the moment the peace talks did not go along his whims. He has also failed to release all political prisoners, a promise he has repeatedly made,” said the CPP.

The CPP also denounced being called a “terrorist” group, and observed that the president has “joined the US imperialists in its terrorist-tagging.” Noting that Duterte has agreed to the construction of US facilities inside military camps and to continued US-PH war games, the CPP said that the president is now proving his anti-US rhetoric as “a completely hollow enticement for Filipino patriots.”

In the last round of negotiations, the GRP panel agreed to ask the US government to remove the CPP, NPA and Prof. Jose Ma. Sison from its list of so-called “foreign terrorists.” The US government has rejected the request.

Nonetheless, the CPP said that the New People’s Army is ready to face the GRP’s “all-out war,” and will “outlast” the Duterte government as long as the roots of the armed conflict are not addressed.

The communist party added that the president has only “antagonized all peace-loving sectors of the Philippines,” citing extrajudicial killings in the ‘war on drugs’ as well as the perpetuation of “anti-people policies of contractualization, cheap labor, landgrabbing and so on.”

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