Cancellation of the June 28 NDFP-GRP peace talks shows Duterter’s partiality to militarism and deceit over the pursuit of just and lasting peace

Press Statement | 20 June 2018
Ka Joaquin Jacinto
Spokesperson, NDFP-Mindanao

The NDFP-Mindanao rejects the latest attempt of the the US-Duterte regime to once again sabotage and derail the peace process by arbitrarily cancelling the resumption of the 5th round of the NDFP-GRP formal peace negotiations, which is set to commence on June 28 as agreed upon by both parties after a series backchannel talks.

This is already the fourth time Duterte violated basic protocols of the NDFP-GRP peace talks as stipulated under the The Hague Joint Declaration, which ensures that no party in the negotiations takes upon itself the right to dictate arbitrary terms upon the other. Duterte cannot just dictate and impose his will on the process. This latest infringement only reveals the high degree of contempt with which Duterte’s regime shows in all its blabber of pursuing genuine peace.

Talk of peace from Duterte’s mouth is apparently nothing but a subterfuge to veil its fascism, as manifested in its militarist policies such as the continuing imposition of martial law in Mindanao. Duterte and his military minions have waylaid the peace talks in favor of the all-out military suppression and encirclement campaign of the AFP, which is set to launch Marawi-style large-scale military offensives against the revolutionary movement and the people in the next three months until the end of the year in several hinterland communities all over Mindanao, particularly in Caraga, Davao, Cotabato, Misamis, Lanao and Zamboaga.

With this latest breach in the talks, Duterte once again deprives the masses of workers, peasants and Lumad in Mindanao a sound platform to re-assert their demands for genuine agrarian reform, national industrialization, national sovereignty as well as their basic rights and freedoms, especially since the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) is the center of the 5th round of talks once it formally resumes. In particular, it deprives peasants, Lumad and Moro of a venue to further defend their land against the aggressive encroachment of imperialist plantations and mining firms.

The US-Duterte regime foists “peace consultations” as its excuse for calling off the talks. It even went as far as “inviting” individuals from the revolutionary movement as “resource persons” to these so-called “consultations.” However, looking back at the lessons gleaned from past peace talks (especially the one in 1986), this “excuse” looks more like a grand ruse to lure revolutionary forces into exposing themselves to arrests and attacks by the AFP and the PNP.

This is also to lay the ground for Duterte’s and the AFP’s insistence to hold the peace talks in the Philippines and conduct “localized peace talks,” which are clearly intended to sow confusion and division among revolutionary forces and the people in general. Apart from the demand for the venue of the talks to be transferred to the Philippines, which a glaring violation of the The Hague Joint Declarations, Duterte has also demanded the return of Prof. Jose Maria Sison to the country as a pre-condition, one which exposes Prof. Sison to mortal danger.

These so-called “peace consultations” are dubious as democratic avenues for the masses to assert their socio-economic demands and aspirations because these are launched alongside the AFP’s military operations and COPD, and, at the same time, Peace and Order Councils (where the AFP hold sway) of local government units will be mobilized to spearhead such activities. Being so, we fear that these “consultations” will only be used to dissuade the public from supporting the peace talks by propagating black propaganda as well as fake and poison news against the national-democratic revolutionary movement. If the GRP is truly serious about consulting the people, it should hold them during and within the terms of the formal peace negotiations.

On the part of the NDFP and the revolutionary forces, its representatives have long conducted thorough consultations among the masses of peasants, workers, Lumad and Moro and, from which, verified the validity of CASER. But even with this, the US-Duterte regime has proven itself as the chief saboteur of the peace process by attacking, arresting, harassing and even killing NDFP consultants, such as in the case of NDFP consultant Lora Manipis and her husband, who remain missing until this time and are feared dead.

Thus, the NDFP-Mindanao calls on the Filipino people to unite under the banner of just peace, expose and oppose efforts by the US-Duterte regime to sabotage and derail the peace talks, and continue to press for the resumption of the formal peace negotiations. We call on the people further to wage all forms of struggle to allow the peace process to continue and prosper.

We call on the various regional commands of the New People’s Army and People’s militias in Mindanao to launch more tactical offensives to counter on-going large-scale offensives of the AFP that endanger the very lives and livelihood of workers, peasants, Lumad and Moro in the island and threaten various efforts, including the NDFP-GRP peace talks, to attain just and lasting peace.###