Duterte killing peace talks – Joma

President Rodrigo Duterte is “killing” peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) by ruling out a third-party facilitator for the negotiations, exiled Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison said on Tuesday.

“The political swindler and butcher Duterte is willfully and maliciously killing the peace negotiations by breaking the standing GRP [Government of the Republic of the Philippines]-NDFP agreement on foreign neutral venue and dismissing the third-party facilitator,” Sison added in a statement.

The CPP was reacting to pronouncements of Malacañang on Monday that Duterte wants to hold the stalled peace talks in the Philippines, a move opposed by the communist rebels.

“He [Duterte] knows very well that the NDFP will never submit itself to surveillance, control and duress by his bloody regime and his military and police butchers and death squads,” Sison said.

He slammed Duterte by “justifying” methods of the “fake surrenders and mass murders” of members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the CPP’s armed wing.

“He really does not want to have the peace negotiations,” Sison said.

Peace Process Adviser Jesus Dureza announced last week that the peace talks with the communist rebels would be delayed, saying they would first consult the public regarding the resumption of the talks.

The NDFP also on Tuesday said formal peace talks should be held in a foreign neutral country, citing agreements signed in 1995 and 2004 under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig).

Rachel Pastores, NDFP legal consultant, hit back at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for saying that the communists were “insincere” while the peace talks were ongoing.

She was responding to a statement of Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesman, who called on the NDFP to have political consultants who had been released to surrender to authorities.

Pastores said the consultants of the NDFP were granted bail by the government for their participation in the formal peace talks.

She explained that the 19 NDFP consultants’ bails are effective and valid while the peace negotiations with the government are still ongoing, pending a new schedule for the formal peace talks.

“[The consultants’] liberty should not be based on the whimsical decision to have the formal talks canceled,” she said.

Pastores cited the situation of Rafael Baylosis, who was arrested earlier this year in Quezon City for illegal possession of firearms and explosive devices in his house.

She said Baylosis had been granted bail but was arrested by police on “trumped-up” charges of illegally possessing firearms.

“Can you imagine if the peace talks would be held in the Philippines? What kind of emotional torture… may happen to the NDFP consultants if the negotiations would be held in the Philippines?” she asked.

Meanwhile, the NDFP admitted that recruitment of fighters for the NPA, the CPP’s armed wing, is ongoing, saying past ceasefires had not mentioned that the recruitment should stop.

Rey Casambre, NDFP consultant and executive director of the Philippine Peace Center, said the communist armed group was continuing its recruitment even during the past ceasefires.

He said the AFP should also stop its recruitments of soldiers if it wants the NPA to stop its own recruitment.

Norway still in

Also on Tuesday, Dureza said Norway will remain as the third-party facilitator in the peace talks.

Dureza described as “total fabrication” and “irresponsible journalism” reports quoting Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. that a third-party facilitator was no longer needed.

He said he was in Oslo to attend the International Forum on Conflict Mediation and “to express our country’s gratitude for Norway’s significant and continuing support to the long-drawn peace negotiations with the Left.”

“Norway, in spite of the challenges we face in the long negotiations, has remained patient, resilient and steadfast in its help to the Filipino people,” Dureza added.

Roque on Monday said Malacañang no longer saw the need to have a third-party facilitator in the resumption of the peace talks.

But in a separate statement, he downplayed his earlier statements.

“Norway can continue to help the Philippines as a third-party facilitator of the peace talks, as I mentioned during this morning’s press briefing,” Roque said.

Norway has been the third party facilitator of the talks since 2001.

Some senators backed the suggestion of President Duterte to hold the peace talks in the Philippines.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon agreed that having the talks in the country is a good move since the problem involves Filipinos.

Lacson said a safe conduct pass issued by the government is all that is needed to ensure the safety and security of the rebel side.


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