July 20, 2017
MANILA, Philippines – Back to being enemies of the state.
This is where leftist groups appear to be heading to as their political alliance with President Rodrigo Duterte, which appeared to be robust just a year ago, further weakened with the chief executive’s decision against resuming both the government’s peace negotiations and backchannel talks with communist rebels as well as his refusal to heed the call of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) to end martial law in Mindanao.
Minutes after Secretary Jesus Dureza on Wednesday said that the decision was not to continue the formal talks supposedly scheduled next month and that only the backchannel talks would resume, the presidential adviser on the peace process backpedalled and said via his Facebook page that Duterte had instructed government negotiators to also cancel informal talks with the Reds.
“I am announcing the cancellation of backchannel talks wit the CPP/NPA/NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front) originally set within the next few days in Europe due to recent developments involving attacks done by the NPAs,” said Dureza.
“The situation on the ground necessary to provide the desired enabling environment for the conduct of peace negotiations are still not present up to this time,” he added.
The NPA is being blamed for the alleged ambush in Brgy. Katipunan, Arakan, North Cotabato early Wednesday killing a militiaman and wounding four members of the President’s security personnel.
But the communist rebels later the same day denied the allegation. “There was no encounter between the PSG (Presidential Security Group) and NPA units. Also, the NPA fighters did not report any encounter with the responding AFP/PNP.”
Also, the government-run Philippine News Agency reported Wednesday afternoon that according to PSG spokesperson Lt. Col. Mike Aquino, the incident was not an NPA ambush as it was their personnel who had fired first at the suspicious-looking band who were clad in military uniforms.
Two more offensives reported the same day were blamed on the NPA — the attack on DOLE Philippines’ banana plantation in Sitio Ibo, Brgy. Anahao Daan, Tago, Surigao del Sur and the assault in Roxas, Palawan that killed two Marines.
On Duterte’s decision to decline Bayan’s plea for him to end military rule in the South, the NDF’s Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms said on Wednesday that the President’s push for the extension of martial law and relatedly the government’s insistence for a “prolonged ceasefire” as a precondition for the continuation of the peace talks “do not at all bide well for the peace negotiations.”
“All these indicate that the GPH (government of the Philippines) is just looking at the military angle of the crisis in Marawi and of the problems of the whole country, and that the GPH lacks interest to work out with the NDFP fundamental agreements towards solving the socio-economic and also the political-cultural root causes of the armed conflict with the objective of achieving real and lasting peace in the country,” it said in a statement.
According to the NDF, “Duterte’s supposed openness to other reform measures would eventually all be rendered meaningless, as he tends to scuttle the peace talks and gives in more and more to the interests of and pressures from the military fascists in government and from the US imperialists behind these fascists.”
“He had earlier said that he would also like to terminate labor contractualizaton, push for free school tuition and for more practical reform measures. None of these would find reality any longer, if the GPH keeps on insisting only at the military aspects of and apparent solutions to the country’s problems, and does not even look at the abuses made by the GPH’s military and at the intrusions of the US troops that have exaggerated and even further worsened the Marawi crisis,” it said.