The Philippine government has expressed doubts over the sincerity of communist groups who call for new peace negotiations, which have been stalled since 2011.
Government chief peace negotiator Alexander Padilla said the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its negotiating arm, the National Democratic Front (NDF), should have relayed their proposed terms for the resumption of talks through the proper channel and not through the media.
“There has been no formal notification” to the government up until today, Padilla said in a forum in Manila on Wednesday.
“If they seriously want to talk, you don’t do it through the media,” he added.
Padilla explained that the NDF should first inform the Royal Norwegian Government, the third party facilitator of the peace negotiations since 2004, of its plans and conditions.
“[A statement] was given to the media. There is a difference. So, to us, it is mere propaganda,” he pointed out.
Reports about the leftist clamor for peace talks came after the Armed Forces of the Philippines arrested CPP leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon in Cebu in March, a development that the rebels said derailed the negotiations further.
NDF peace consultants Randall Echanis and Rafael Baylosis said the release of the two communist leaders will help resume the peace talks, a condition the government dismissed.
“Peace groups here and abroad are strongly urging the Aquino government to drop its extreme and sheer display of political arrogance, free the Tiamzons and other NDF peace consultants, return to the negotiating table and proceed with the next substantive agenda of the talks,” Echanis and Baylosis said in an earlier joint statement.
“The president of the GPH has no reason or option to reject this legitimate call of the people for just and lasting peace based on justice,” the statement added.
However, Rey Casambre, who represented the NDF during the forum, also showed confusion on the proposal of peace talks, according to Padilla.
Padilla also pointed out that part of the new terms presented by the communist group is a discussion on Super Typhoon Yolanda, which is not even “part of the regular track [of the negotiations].”
But, he said, government remains open to reviving peace negotiations with the rebels.
He said the government “would welcome any informal [initiatives], from church and other sectors, that can bridge the gap between [the two negotiating panels]. We have never left the negotiating table. We are just waiting for them to go back and sincerely talk peace.”