CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Aug. 3 — Peace advocates have called on President Rodrigo Duterte not to be swayed by “spoilers” who are out to sabotage the peace negotiations between the government and the communist rebel movement.
Duterte halted the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines after its armed wing New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) launched several attacks against government troops last month.
Rebels attacked a convoy of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) on July 19, prompting Malacañang to issue an order for the government’s negotiating panel not to resume formal talks.
Bishop Felixberto Calang, of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), said that while he understood the President’s sentiment the latter should “pursue peace if peace spoilers are passionate enough in their quest to sabotage the process.”
On the contrary, Calang said the rising hostilities created a “pressing need” for both sides to go back to the negotiating table and avoid a bloodbathe.
“It is for the welfare of the people that peace talks conclude to address the root causes of the armed conflict,” Calang told the Philippine News Agency in a phone interview.
Calang, co-convenor of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), said they remain optimistic that both sides will resume negotiations “so that genuine agrarian reform and rural development coupled with national industrialization and economic development will finally be realized.”
Calang’s group has been acting as third-party facilitator to peaceful negotiations leading to the release of police officers and military personnel captured by the NPA in the past.
For his part, progressive leader Satur Ocampo said he remains bullish with the negotiations, noting that neither side has officially invoked the process that would terminate the peace negotiations.
Ocampo, an “independent cooperator” who has been actively involved in the peace talks between the government and rebel groups, said this was a clear sign that both sides remain inclined to comeback to the negotiating table.
He also noted that this is the second time that Duterte has declared the termination of the talks, first in February when the NPA killed six soldiers and held captive three military troopers.
Ocampo describes Duterte as prone to issuing statements “at the height of his outbursts, many of them he will recant after episodes of flare-ups.”