President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday communist leaders were “insisting” on reviving the peace talks with the government, but Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison denied it.
President Duterte said Fidel Agcaoili and Luis Jalandoni wanted to resume the peace talks that were terminated last year.
“I don’t know, but they are insisting on resuming the talks and the others,” Duterte said during the oathtaking of high-ranking police officials in Malacañang.
But Sison, the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines representing rebels in peace negotiations, said Duterte was “completely wrong” in saying they were insisting on resuming the talks.
In 2017, Duterte signed Proclamation 360 declaring the termination of the peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines, along with its political wing National Democratic Front of the Philippines and its armed wing the New People’s Army.
The resumption of the talks was scheduled in late June last year, but it was canceled as the government sought to review all agreements of the communists with the previous administrations.
The government and the CPP-NPA have also accused each other of violating ceasefire agreements.
Sison said the “peace negotiations and the Manila visit of Agcaoili and Jalandoni are impossible so long as Duterte is in power and does not remove the aforesaid obstacles that he himself is responsible for.”
Agcaoili is the NDFP’s chief peace negotiator while Jalandoni is a senior adviser to the negotiating panel.
Sison said the CPP had maintained its policy of keeping the doors “always open to [the] peace negotiations,” but claimed that the current political environment was not conducive to the talks.
“Peace negotiations are a mode of talking to the enemy, addressing the roots of the armed conflict and possibly ending the long-running civil war in the Philippines,” Sison said.
Duterte has been blaming the NPA for the torture and murder of four policemen in Ayungon town in Negros Oriental last month and for the spate of killings in the province.
Duterte also warned the NPA that he would soon implement a “severe measure” in dealing with them.
The government has also launched projects for the surrendering communist rebels, promising them cash, housing and livelihood assistance.