MANILA, Philippines (5th UPDATE) – The Philippine government (GRP) announced on Saturday, May 27, that it will no longer join the scheduled 5th round of peace negotiations with communist rebels.
In a press conference in The Netherlands, Chief Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said that "the government panel is now left without any other 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 rounds of peace negotiations" until there is an "enabling environment" for both parties.
Dureza cited the "blatant publicly announced decision" of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) "ordering their forces on the ground to accelerate and intensify attacks against the government" in the face of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
He said that this is "the most serious development of late" that now puts the peace talks "in great jeopardy."
He also mentioned factors such as the following:
"The road to peace is not a well-paved road. It has humps and bumps along the way. But let us all stay the course. This is not an easy road to peace," Dureza said.
National Democratic Front (NDF) senior adviser Luis Jalandoni said earlier on Saturday, "We just got notice that the GRP side is canceling the 5th round of peace negotiations."
"So we see clearly, it's their responsibility in doing so because the NDFP side was willing to take up such issues as the human rights violations and how these can be remedied," Jalandoni added.
A government panel source, who is in The Netherlands, told Rappler that the government panel this morning sent the NDF a letter signed by Dureza citing specific instructions from President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte reportedly wanted the NDF to ask the CPP to retract or withdraw its earlier order to rebels to intensify attacks after martial law was declared in Mindanao.
In a statement on the cancellation of the latest round of peace talks, Malacañang said the government questions "the sincerity of the CPP/NPA/NDFP if they truly are in pursuit of peaceful co-existence."
"The Duterte administration would rather pursue the path of genuine dialogue to build a nation worthy of its citizens," Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement Saturday night. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.