Duterte formally ends talks with Reds

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 23) — President Rodrigo Duterte issued a proclamation formally ending peace negotiations with communist rebels.

"This is to announce that the President signed (Thursday) afternoon, November 23, Proclamation 360 declaring the termination of peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF)-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) -the New People's Army (NPA)," Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.

Under the proclamation, Roque said the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the government peace panel were ordered to cancel further meetings with their communist counterparts.

The CPP is the mother organization, while the NDF is its political arm negotiating with the government. The NPA is the armed wing.

The meetings have been held in Oslo, Norway. The Norwegian government has been acting as third party facilitator of the talks as the communist leadership led by Jose Maria Sison, CPP founder and NDFP chief political consultant, is in self-exile in the Netherlands.

On Wednesday, Presidential Peace Process Adviser Jesus Dureza said the decision to end the talks was in response to frequent attacks by rebels, and the communists' lack of willingness to negotiate.

READ: Gov't cancels all planned peace talks with communist rebels

Roque said the government exerted "best efforts" to expedite the signing of a final peace agreement.

He said it was "unfortunate" the rebels failed to show commitment in pursuing "genuine and meaningful" negotiations.

Roque said the President will continue to pray the country finds peace "in the fullness of God's time."

"The President, as we all know, has always wanted to leave a legacy of peace under his administration. He has, in fact, walked the extra mile for peace," the presidential spokesman said.

Jalandoni: Duterte 'sabotaging' chances for peace

Officials of the National Democratic Front have not taken Duterte's termination of the the peace process lightly.

NDFP Senior Advisor Luis Jalandoni on Thursday accused Duterte of "sabotaging" not only negotiations with the communists, but also the chance for Filipinos to achieve a "just and lasting peace."

"The longing of many millions of farmers and fisherfolk for genuine land reform and the entire Filipino people for a just and lasting peace is trampled upon by Duterte," Jalandoni said in a statement.

The statement was released roughly an hour before Roque's statement that President Duterte had signed Proclamation No. 360.

Jalandoni, who was chief negotiator of NDFP before stepping down in October, cited the hours of work negotiators from both sides had dedicated to drafting plans and agreements.

Before Duterte terminated talks with the communists, the long-stalled fifth round of peace negotiations was scheduled for November 25-27, 2017 in Norway.

"In one stroke, President Duterte has abruptly cancelled the peace talks. He must answer to the Filipino people who long for a just and lasting peace by addressing the roots of the armed conflict," said Jalandoni.

He said Duterte had acted like "a crazed tyrant" when he branded the communist movement as a "terrorist" just like the United States.

Jalandon, however, added the revolutionary movement would not cease fighting for their cause.

Sison: Duterte is no. 1 terrorist

The CPP's founder, meanwhile, let out a fiery statement against Duterte earlier in the evening.

"Duterte is the No.1 terrorist in the Philippines," said Jose Maria Sison, who was also Duterte' former college professor.

Sison claimed Duterte was "culpable" for the increasing abduction, torture and "mass murder" of poor people suspected of being drug users and pushers, among other accusations.

He also referenced an earlier statement where Duterte said he wanted to declare the New People's Army (NPA) as a terrorist group.

Sison said Duterte was "utterly malicious and shameless" in threatening to brand and outlaw suspected members and affiliates of revolutionary organizations as terrorists.

READ: Duterte to declare NPA as terrorist group

He said they have no choice but to "wage all forms of resistance" in light of the circumstances.

"The Filipino people and revolutionary forces waging the people´s democratic revolution have no choice but to intensify the people´s war through an extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare in rural areas and partisan or commando operations in urban areas," he said.

NDFP: Duterte responsible for socio-economic blocking reforms

Earlier, the NDFP said Duterte's cancellation of the peace negotiations would hamper socio-economic reforms that would have benefited the people.

In a statement Thursday afternoon, the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms (RWC-SER) said Duterte's latest "scuttling" of the talks occured as negotiators had achieved "unprecedented advances" in crafting socio-economic agreements to address poverty and armed conflict.

"Pres. Duterte bears full responsibility for the failure of the talks on social and economic reforms because of his sudden turn-around and heightened hostility to the revolutionary forces and the people," the NDFP said.

It said draft documents with "substantial agreeements" on agrarian reform, rural development, and national industrialization were in the works just days before Duterte cancelled the talks.

READ: Gov't, communist rebels blame each other for failure of peace talks

The communist insurgency is Asia's longest running armed struggle spanning nearly half a century since the CPP was founded in 1968 by then student activist Jose Ma. Sison. The group has taken up arms, believing it can change what it calls an oppressive regime through the years.

Negotiations were on and off since the term of President Cory Aquino in 1986 until the Duterte administration.

Duterte released a number of communist leaders to participate in the negotiations, and as part of confidence-building measures. But the NPA continued its attacks especially on private properties, prompting government forces to retaliate even as talks were in progress.