MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippine government on Wednesday, November 22, announced the “cancellation of all planned meetings” with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), effectively again suspending the peace process.
“We are hereby announcing today the cancellation of all planned meetings with the CPP/NPA/NDF in line with President [Rodrigo] Duterte’s directive that there will be no more peace talks with them,” Chief Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said in a statement.
There will be no peace talks until a “desired enabling environment” is evident, Dureza said.
He said the “recent tragic and violent events” committed by the rebels led to the President’s decision to suspend talks.
“This is an unfortunate development in our work for peace,” he said. “Never before have we all reached this far in our negotiations with them.”
Dureza said the communist rebels have not reciprocated the “extra mile” given by Duterte in the peace process.
“Despite this setback (hopefully only temporary), we remain steadfast and undeterred in our unrelenting journey for sustainable and just peace,” Dureza said.
The Philippine government, he added, has expressed its regrets to third party facilitator Norway for the turn of events.
With this announcement, the Department of National Defense (DND), in a separate statement, said that the government will “continue to vigorously pursue operations against their armed components.”
“We strongly suggest to the NPA to lay down their arms, surrender, return to society, and be part of the real change espoused by the national leadership,” the DND said.
Dureza’s announcement comes a day after Duterte said he had decided to “cut talks with the NPAs,” and days after the President said he planned to issue a proclamation tagging communist rebels as “terrorists.”
While he had long declared suspended talks with communists in July, and before that in February, Dureza had long held out hope the talks would continue, even informally.
Duterte had also been saying in recent months he was open to resuming the peace negotiations.
On Tuesday, Duterte spoke of a New People’s Army (NPA) ambush that killed a 4-month that appeared to be the last straw. The NPA is the armed wing of the CPP.
“Inambush nila ‘yung pulis in Mindanao tapos pati ‘yung bata na 4 months old tinamaan. Kaya napundi talaga ako (They ambushed the police in Mindanao and a 4-month-old child was hit. That was the last straw),” said Duterte.
Such news drove Duterte to tell Dureza and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who chairs the government panel negotiating with the National Democratic Front: “You tell the guys there in the Netherlands, I am no longer available for any official talk. Giyera na lang tayo (Let’s just go to war).” – Rappler.com