The Duterte administration said localized peace talks will render the Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison “irrelevant” even as the Utrecht-based rebel leader insisted the CPP will just wait for the next President to resume negotiations.
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“The President gave very clear preconditions. The localized peace talks must be held here in the Philippines, and we will involve local commanders of the CPP-New People’s Army,” Presidential Peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said in a phone interview.
“If Joma does not want to talk peace, we have no problem with that. In the first place, he is already irrelevant. Joma does not have control over the forces on the ground. From what we have seen in previous rounds of peace talks, we cannot just limit discussions with political leaders. We have to include tactical commanders because there is a disconnect between the two,” he added.
Galvez said the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army as well as the NPA Mindanao command under Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos have not been communicating with Sison for some time now, while the Tiamzon couple, Benito and Wilma, are also working independently of the Utrecht-based CPP leaders.
“Joma has been out of the country for so long that he is out of touch with the realities on the ground. We have also received reports that the Tiamzons are now the ones calling the shots here,” he said.
Sison, for his part, said the CPP-NPA and National Democratic Front will no longer engage in any form of peace talks—localized or otherwise—with the Duterte administration.
“As far as I can see, there are no more peace negotiations until he is replaced by a president willing to negotiate social, economic and political reforms with the duly-authorized representatives of the NDF for a just and lasting peace,” Sison told Manila Standard.
“So-called localized peace talks are a charade or a sham, staged and controlled by the military and the military-controlled Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. They are fake peace talks. They are merely intended to stage fake surrenders and fake development projects and to allow military officers to engage in the racket of collecting rewards,” the CPP official added.
Duterte earlier abolished the government’s peace panel to pave the way for localized peace talks
and ordered a review of all past agreements signed by the government panel with the NDF.
“We will reconstitute the panel with the whole-of-nation approach we are advocating to achieve inclusive and sustainable peace,” Galvez said, adding the new panel will include representatives from different sectoral groups, local government units, and the military.
Meanwhile, an NDF consultant, Renante Gamara, was nabbed in Cavite on Wednesday for standing arrest warrants for kidnapping with murder and frustrated murder.
Gamara was already arrested in 2012, but he was released in 2016 to allow his participation in the peace talks in Oslo.
Since Duterte took office in 2016, there have been four rounds of talks between the two parties.
Formal negotiations, along with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, were terminated by the President in November 2017.
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