Peace talks hit snag anew

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DUREZA

The much-awaited resumption of the formal peace negotiations between the government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) will not push through this month as President Rodrigo Duterte wants more consultations with the public.

In a statement issued yesterday, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Jesus Dureza said that both GPH and NDFP peace panels will now adjust the scheduled June 28 formal talks.

“In our common effort to make sure that we achieve a conducive and enabling environment for peace, President Rodrigo Duterte instructed us last night to engage our bigger ‘peace table’ — the general public as well as other sectors in government as we work to negotiate peace with the communist rebels,” Dureza said.

“Consequently, the initial timeline that our backchannel team had worked on with their counterparts (CPP/NPA/NDF) ‘across the table’ had to be necessarily re-adjusted,” he added.

On Wednesday, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Jose Ma. Sison, also the chief political consultant of NDFP, said a “stand down” agreement was reached between the two parties that will pave the way for a ceasefire.

Sison said the “stand down” would start June 21 or a week before the June 28 formal talks.
Dureza acknowledged the need for more public consultations to ensure that majority is in support of the peace negotiations.

“Our peace efforts to succeed should have good support from the general public hence it is necessary that all efforts be exerted to inform and engage them in the same way as the government engages the rebels in addressing the root causes of conflict,” he said.
Dureza said that almost 50 years of intermittent and often times disrupted peace negotiations with the communist rebels across several presidencies need a close study to ensure that our “last chance” to put a dignified closure to the armed rebellion will not be squandered away.

“The government peace panel in cooperation with the private sector will continue its efforts to ‘engage’ those who earnestly seek peace,” Dureza said.

“But it is equally important that the stakeholders on the ground must also be equally engaged through consultations to ensure that all those consensus points and agreements forged in the negotiations table have palpable support from them,” he added.

Dureza said that while both peace panels have already achieved so much breakthroughs during the talks, there is also a need to ensure that they do not falter due to haste.
“Just, sustainable and lasting peace will happen only when our people understand and support these efforts,” Dureza said.

He, however, did not mention when the formal peace talks would resume.