No more talks

Dureza says they take guidance from Duterte who wants NPA branded as terrorists
THE OFFICE of the Presidential Peace Adviser for the Peace Process has formally withdrawn plans for future talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to tag the rebel group as terrorists following an incident that involved injuries on civilians and the death of a four-month old infant.

“We are hereby announcing today the cancellation of all planned meetings with the CPP/NPA/NDF in line with President Duterte directive that there will be no more peace talks with them,” OPAPP secretary Jesus Dureza said in a statement released to media Wednesday morning.

“Recent tragic and violent incidents all over the country committed by the communist rebels left the President with no other choice but to arrive at this decision,” Dureza said.

“We take guidance from the President’s recent announcements and declarations.”

He said the government position will change until such time that the “desired enabling environment conducive to change in the government’s position becomes evident.”

Earlier this week, President Duterte said that he has tasked Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo to draft the proclamation about the group.

This is not the first time that the President has directed the peace panel to abandon the talks. Earlier this year, he told Dureza’s team to pack their bags and go home. During the Davao Investment Forum in Davao City in July, he said his administration will no longer pursue the talks because the CPP-NDF is just wasting the government’s time.

“Let us stop talking. I’m tired,” he said then. “It’s a great expense to be sending people there for nothing so I might as just well lose the money. Whatever. Let’s start fighting.”

However, this is the first time where the President is really serious about branding the NPA as a terror organization. The US Department of State includes the communist group in its long list of terrorists.

Dureza, however, said the announcement was not without any hard feelings from the government’s side of the peace negotiation.

“This is an unfortunate development In our work for peace, Never before have we all reached this far In our negotiations with them,” Dureza said.

“President Duterte has taken unprecedented steps and has walked the so-called extra mile to bring peace. However, the Communist Party and its armed elements have not shown reciprocity,” Dureza said.

However, Dureza hinted on a window for the return of talks.

“There will be no peace negotiations anymore with the CPP/NPA/NDF until such time as the desired enabling environment conducive to a change in the government’s position becomes evident,” he said.

Dureza meanwhile thanked the Royal Norwegian Government for its “strong support.”

“We also expressed to their officials our regrets for this tum of events,” Dureza said, adding that they are still hoping the setback is temporary.