Malacañang remains open to working for peace through negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) despite recent setbacks.
“Despite the untenable circumstances on the ground, the peace talks have not yet been scuttled,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement on Friday, February 3, adding that the road to peace is “not an easy journey.”
“Some progress had already been made during the third round of peace talks in Rome, but apparently there is some disconnect between dissident leaders negotiating at the table and their forces on the ground,” the Palace official noted.
Abella said it would be deeply regrettable that the otherwise positive developments now might have to be set aside.
In a speech in M’lang, Cotabato on Friday, February 3, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte announced the lifting of government’s unilateral ceasefire with CPP-NPA.
The Chief Executive lamented that he has lost so many soldiers in just 48 hours. “I think to continue with a ceasefire does not or will not produce anything,” he said.
Abella noted that NPA had broken peace and ambushed soldiers with ease some of whom had just received wages when they were shot and killed viciously by rebels.
“An Army officer commented that by doing so the NPA showed ‘complete disregard for their earlier announcement that they would recall its ceasefire only by 10 February,’” the Palace spokesperson said.
For his part, government peace panel chair Silvestre Bello III said the scheduled peace talks on February 22 to 25 will proceed and will tackle the mechanism for a joint ceasefire such as the parameters, definition of terms, and terms of reference.
“Kaya mabuti na kung magkakaroon ng… bilateral ceasefire agreement, para sa ganon, lalo ‘yung mga parameters, lalo ‘yung definition of terms. Ano lang ‘yung mga pwede mong sabihin na paglalabag sa ceasefire,” he said in an interview over state-run DZRB on Saturday, February 4.
Bello also noted that what’s important is “we try to talk, hopefully stop the fighting… permanently.” PND