Communist party slams government for suspending talks again

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 15) — Leaders and consultants of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF) expressed on Friday their huge disappointment and frustration for what they say is a unilateral decision made by the Duterte Administration.

Formal peace talks between the government and communist rebels will not resume on June 28 as earlier announced by NDF Chairman Jose Maria Sison. President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza to "reset" and work on an "implementable" peace deal.

READ: Peace talks with Reds not resuming as announced

The government announced, just a day before consultants of the NDF negotiating panel were set to fly to the Netherlands, that formal peace talks will not resume as planned until an "enabling environment" is reached.

Rey Casambre, one of the consultants, explained that the "enabling environment" the government wants is a  "ceasefire."

"What are they talking about that there's no enabling environment that was what the agreement is supposed to produce. That is hardly a reason now kase as early as November the NDF and the government had agreed on a stand down," Casambre said, who had to cancel his flight because of the postponement of peace talks.

He said the NDF was prepared for a "stand down" or a lower form of a ceasefire. He said, this was supposed to lead to a coordinated unilateral ceasefire under the agreement which will be signed when the formal talks resume.

Casambre believes what prompted the government to cancel the pre-agreed date is that it is not yet ready for the social and economic reforms stated in the provisions of the agreement, which are:

  • fiscal policies such as the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law
  • free land distribution
  • national industrialization
  • rights of the working people

CPP founder Jose Maria Sison said in a statement released on Thursday that the Duterte administration is "obviously not interested in serious peace negotiations and that the revolutionary forces and the people have no choice but to singlemindedly wage a people's war" to achieve liberation.

Casambre told CNN Philippines Sison is willing to visit home within the year but the cancellation erases all the possibilities at the moment.

The communist panel is waiting for the government team that is due to arrive in the Netherlands on Sunday to give a more elaborate explanation of why the decision was made.

In the meantime, the peace talks hang in the balance.

Representatives of the government and the rebels had been holding back channel discussions about going back to the negotiating table, after Duterte walked away from the talks in November 2017. The President ended the on-and-off negotiations with Communist rebels as both sides accused each other of violating their ceasefire agreement.

The Duterte administration is the sixth to hold peace talks with the NDF, political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been waging nearly five decades of insurgency against the government.