The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) has finally shut down peace efforts with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
This came after several pronouncements of Pre-sident Rodrigo Duterte that there will be no more talks with communists.
Thus, OPAPP head, Secretary Jesus Dureza cancelled all planned meetings between the GRP and NDF peace panels.
“There will be no peace negotiations anymore with the CPP-NPA-NDF until such time as the de-sired enabling environment conducive to a change in the government’s position becomes evident,” Dureza said in a statement released to the media Wednesday.
Dureza said the cancellation is in line with the directive of the President.
The presidential peace adviser cited recent incidents committed by the NPA rebels that “left the President with no other choice but to arrive at this decision.”
“We take guidance from the President’s recent announcements and declarations,” Dureza said.
Dureza said, “This is an unfortunate development in our work for peace. Never before have we all reached this far in our negotiations with them.”
He said the Communist Party and its armed elements have not shown reciprocity despite the President’s unprecedented steps to bring peace.
“Despite this setback (hopefully only temporary), we remain steadfast and undeterred in our unrelenting journey for sustainable and just peace,” he said.
Dureza also thanked the Royal Norwegian Government for its strong support.
On Saturday, the President again reiterated his stand not to resume the peace negotiations and would remove the communist movement from the category as legal entity or semi-(revolutionary) movement.
“We will consider them terrorists, ordinary brigands and no more about principles there. You are not fighting for any principle. My God, killing a four-year-old infant?” he said.
Duterte said he was no longer inclined to talk peace with the communists.
The past two weeks saw the NPA’s intensified offensive operations against government forces in the areas of Davao, Bukidnon, and Agusan.
In Davao City, NPA liquidation hitmen killed a police officer in Barangay Valencia, Tugbok District on November 13. The rebels also abducted two police officers in Caraga. On November 14, NPA burned two trucks along the highway of Barangay Cuyago, Jabonga province of Agusan del Norte. There was also the ambush incident killing a four-month-old baby and a police officer in Talakag, Bukidnon.
Since the suspension of the negotiations at the fifth round of talks, the GRP-NDF panels have not formally returned to the negotiating table.
The two panels were expected to agree on a bilateral ceasefire but never happened after the CPP-NPA-NDF refused to budge as the movement also demanded the release of all political prisoners.
In fact, the NPA terminated its unilateral ceasefire with the government in February prompting Duterte to also lift the government’s unilateral ceasefire.
The President then called on NDF consultants released by the government to return and submit them-selves to the jurisdiction of the government because they are still prisoners.
Duterte had explained that releasing all political prisoners can be done only after a successful talk. The Duterte administration released about 21 political prisoners, who are members and consultants of the NDF, since the start of the peace talks in Oslo in August.
The President’s order to pull out from the talks last February was the 16th disruption so far recorded in the history of the peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDF.
Since 2001, the formal peace negotiations was stalled after the NDF withdrew from the negotiating table on account of the renewed inclusion of the Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Maria Sison and the CPP-NPA in the US terrorist list.
During the Rome talks last January, both sides agreed for the GRP peace panel to recommend to the President to request the US government to de-list Sison from the list.
The peace negotiations with the reds have spanned from the time of the Cory administration to the successive former presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino then to Duterte. Ayan C. Mellejor