MANILA –The Philippine government on Tuesday formally issued the notice terminating peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF).
The formal notice was contained in a letter signed by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza and addressed to NDF Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison and NDF peace panel chair Fidel Agcaoili.
The letter in full read:
“Dear Prof. Sison and Mr. Agcaoili:
Following the President’s announcement of the cancellation of the peace talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF and per his instructions, the Government is hereby serving notice of the termination of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
Please be guided accordingly.”
The letter was served amidst concern by the NDF panel that the termination of the peace negotiations should be made through a formal notice not just from a mere announcement by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The NDF argued that the mode of termination of the peace negotiations is explicitly defined under the JASIG.
The JASIG, signed on February 24, 1995 is effective and binding upon the parties for the duration of the peace negotiations, unless terminated by written notice given by one party to the other.
It is deemed terminated “30 days after receipt of the notice of termination.”
In the meantime, Dureza said that despite the cancellation of the peace talks, the Duterte administration remains committed in its peace efforts by continuing with resolve to explore all opportunities to intensify implementation of genuine reforms for the benefit of the people, particularly socio-economic programs in conflict-affected communities.
He said that the government “shall also continue to pursue other paths to peace and undertake all forms of peace initiatives and peacebuilding efforts at the national, regional and local levels to keep the peace.”
“We assure our people that the Government will continue its vigilance in the preservation of law and order and in protecting our people against insurgent activities and threats of terrorism, and pursue the enhancement of our democratic institutions,” he said.
“Let us be one in our call for a stop to armed violence and pursue just and lasting peace by ways of peace,” Dureza said.
Prior to the formal cessation of talks, the Government has engaged the CPP/NPA/NDF in three rounds of formal negotiations, the last being in Rome on January 19 to 25 of this year.
A fourth round of talks has been scheduled on February 22.
Formal talks were started August 22 to 28 last year in Oslo, Norway after President Duterte ordered the temporary release of 20 detainees from jail who will serve as NDF consultants for the duration of the talks.
The government and the CPP/NPA also declared separate indefinite unilateral ceasefires to further facilitate the holding of the peace talks.
But on February 1, the NPA said that it was terminating its unilateral ceasefire as it accused the government of reneging on its promise to release about 400 more political prisoners.
The NPA’s ceasefire withdrawal should have taken effect on February 10.
Meanwhile, President Duterte announced the end of the government’s ceasefire last February 3.
The President said he would not compromise the integrity of the government by releasing all political prisoners.
On February 4, Duterte publicly announced the end of the peace talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF.