MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to go after organizations he claims are “legal fronts” of the communist revolutionary movement following his cancellation of peace talks with the rebels can only drive more people to armed struggle.
“Gusto niyang mag-rebolusyon lahat ng tao (He wants everyone to revolt),” Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison told News5 in an interview.
“O sige, pumatay siya, mangkulong siya, mag-kidnap siya sa mga nagliligal na demokratikong pwersa, tingnan natin (Go ahead, let him kill, jail, kidnap those in the legal democratic force, let us see),” Sison said as he called Duterte’s threat “isa na namang pambababoy (another maligning)” of the legal mass movement.
He also scoffed at the “terrorist” label Duterte has pinned on the communist movement, noting that government forces have killed more civilians.
THE NEWS5 INTERVIEW WITH SISON:
“Ang Philippine Army maraming pinatay, mga matatanda na walang laban, mga kababaihan … Daan–daan ‘yung pinagpapaslang na magsasaka at libu-libo ‘yung pinaslang na walang laban sa sinabing ano, drug user (The Philippine Army has killed so many, the defenseless elderly , women … Hundreds of farmers have been killed and thousands of defenseless alleged drug users),” Sison said.
During a tribute to fallen soldiers on Tuesday, Duterte said: “As of yesterday, I have decided to cut talks with the NPAs (New People’s Army) … I told (presidential peace adviser Jesus) Dureza and government chief negotiator (Silvestre) Bello: ‘You tell the guys there in Netherlands, I am no longer available for any official talk. Giyera na lang tayo (Let’s just wage war).”
On Wednesday, Dureza released this statement: “We are hereby announcing today the cancellation of all planned meetings with the CPP/NPA/NDF (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) in line with President Duterte’s directive that there will be no more peace talks with them.”
Although Dureza said they “take guidance from the President’s recent announcement and declarations,” he called the decision “an unfortunate development in our work for peace. Never before have we all reached this far in our negotiations with them.”
In a related development, Sison’s wife, Julieta de Lima, who chairs the NDFP’s Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms, said Duterte “bears full responsibility” for the failure of the talks with his “sudden turn-about and unilateral cancellation anew of peace negotiations,” noting this was “the third time in six months” he has “obstructed the progress of the talks.”
She noted that the cancellation of the talks “comes at a time when unprecedented advances have already been achieved in forging agreements on urgently needed socioeconomic reforms to alleviate mass poverty and resolve the roots of the armed conflict.”
De Lima said that just four days before Duterte ordered the talks canceled, the NDFP and government reciprocal committees on SER “initialed draft documents reflecting substantial agreements on agrarian reform and rural development, and on national industrialization and economic development,” which “include potentially significant reforms to benefit millions of Filipinos.”
“These include the free distribution of land to tillers, farmers, farmworkers, agricultural workers and fisherfolks,” she said.
“The NDFP and GRP also agreed on the need for national industrialization and for planning to develop Filipino industrial capacity,” vowing to take measures “to ensure that foreign investments cease being one-sided and contribute to developing the national economy.”
De Lima said “further measures of even greater significance were set to be tackled,” with both sides “optimistic that they would be able to complete the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms for signing by their respective negotiating panels and approval by their principals by January 2018.”
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