PEACE Process Secretary Jesus Dureza on Tuesday reminded communist rebels to comply with their obligations under the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL).
This means they should not extort from business establishments, with backchannel talks proceeding to revive fifth round of talks stalled last May.
Pressed on Duterte’s take regarding extortion activities by the New People’s Army to be halted first before any talks with the communists could continue, Dureza said the government peace panel would adhere to “guidance” on whatever the President would tell the panel.
“Whatever the President says, we take guidance…I’m not going to preempt the back channel [talks] but that would be one of the things we will take up with them,” Dureza told a Palace news briefing.
But Dureza took a snide against communists, who would use the collection of so-called revolutionary taxes to extort money from businesses and individuals.
“I would like to tell you in advance that under the CAHRIHL, signed in 1998, the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front and the government committed [themselves to the pact] and among the provisions: not to subject civilians and their properties to attack. That is very clear…these are matters we will take up with them, hopefully in the backchannel very soon,” Dureza said.
While there are no formal dates yet as to the resumption of peace talks, the Peace adviser said they were pushing efforts to secure the return of the stalled negotiations.
“For the OPAPP, we continue the talks. This is the orchestra that the President is playing as a conductor. We have different instruments to play that we needed to harmonize at the end of the day,” Dureza said.
In response, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes said the government, “through the AFP and PNP, is the leading violator of the CARHRIHL.”
“When the GRP says that revolutionary taxation is a violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, claiming it’s an “attack” on civilians, the GRP is actually denying the existence of two governments in the Philippines,” Reyes claimed.
“Now, on the subject of CARHRIHL violations, the GRP should look at itself in the mirror because last we checked, there are more than 400 political prisoners still detained, there have been thousands killed in the drug war, an entire city leveled by indiscriminate bombings, Lumad being forcibly evacuated, schools under attack, picketlines dismantled and activists under surveillance. The GRP, through the AFP and PNP, is the leading violator of the CARHRIHL,” he said.