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Napuno na ang salop! PH gov’t calls off peace talks with Reds

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After holding four rounds of talks, the Philippine government on Saturday (May 27) announced it is cancelling talks with the communist movement.

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza cited the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) order to the New People’s Army (NPA) to intensify attacks against the government following the declaration of martial law in Mindanao as the “most serious development” that has put the peace talks in peril.

“By such defiant, blatant and serious challenge by the CPP/NPA/NDF directed at the gov’t under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte despite all these gains in our work for peace and despite the personal show of goodwill and trust that the President no less has extended to the leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the government panel is now left without any recourse but to announce with due respects to our counterparts and to our facilitator, the royal Norwegian government that it will not proceed to participate in the scheduled 5th round of peace negotiations…,” he said in a statement.

Dureza announced the cancellation of the peace talks in The Netherlands on the day that the fifth round of negotiations with the National Democratic Front, the NPA’s political arm, was supposed to start.

He said the peace negotiations with the communist movement is shelved “until such time as there are clear indications that an enabling environment conducive to achieving just and sustainable peace in the land through peace negotiations across this table shall prevail.”

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 amid the ongoing clash between government forces and the terrorist Maute group in Marawi City.

After Duterte’s proclamation, the CPP-NPA urged its troops to step up the offensive against the government and the recruitment of new fighters as “the necessity of waging revolutionary armed struggle becomes ever clearer.”

But even before the communists’ defiance of Duterte’s martial law declaration, Dureza noted there were already several challenges to the peace process. These include the intensified attacks of the NPA nationwide; the public’s doubt about the communists’ sincerity in pushing through with the peace talks; the public admission of some of the CPP-NDF panel members that they have no control over the forces on the ground; the “sudden and perceptible” erosion of public support for the peace talks, and the clamor to pursue localized peace talks instead.

Duterte previously scrapped peace talks with the communists in February after government troops and the NPA both called off the unilateral ceasefires they declared.

Despite the suspension of negotiations, Dureza urged all stakeholders to “stay the course” in attaining lasting peace.