Philippines calls off peace talks with Communist rebels

Al Jazeera

Negotiations broke down over rebel order for fighters to step up attacks amid violence and martial law in the south.

Members of the Maoist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels [File: Reuters]

The Philippine government on Sunday formally called off the latest round of peace talks with communist insurgents, after the parties failed to resolve a dispute over a rebel order for fighters to step up attacks.

“We are maintaining the decision made not to participate in the fifth round of talks,” chief government negotiator Jesus Dureza told journalists after almost 10 hours of closed-door consultations.

“There are no compelling reasons for us to change the decision … which we announced yesterday,” he said, adding that Manila was “formally” withdrawing from the round.

It was the fifth scheduled round of talks since the resumption of formal negotiations between Manila and the communists in August.

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They are meant to address such issues as a joint interim ceasefire, social and economic reforms and human rights issues.

The breakdown of the talks, held in a scenic Dutch seaside resort, came as fighting flared on Sunday between Philippine government forces and fighters linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in the south, with the death toll nearing 100 after almost a week of fighting.

Talks stalled on Saturday when Dureza objected to the communists’ telling their fighters to intensify attacks in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in parts of the country.

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Dureza said on Sunday that the talks would not resume until there were indications of an “environment conducive to achieving just and sustainable peace.”

Asked whether this included the communists’ order to escalate attacks, Dureza said, “It is a factor.”

But Dureza, who is also Duterte’s chief advisor, emphasised that it was not a formal withdrawal from the Philippines peace process.

Duterte declared martial law on Tuesday across the southern third of the Philippines to quell what he called a fast-growing threat from fighters linked to ISIL.

Communists rebels, who are active in wide areas of the archipelago, including the south, responded to Duterte’s declaration by ordering their own forces to “carry out more tactical offensives”.

Chief rebel negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said the communist negotiators had “recommended to our leadership to reconsider the order, but that takes time”.

He said the NDFP, a coalition of several groups of which the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is among the most prominent, “deeply regretted” Manila’s decision to shelve the talks.

The communist insurgency which began in 1968 in the poverty-stricken Asian country is one of the longest running in the world, and has claimed an estimated 30,000 lives, according to the military.

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Source: News agencies

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This entry was posted in Philippines and tagged , , , , , by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net). I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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