THE commitment of the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to forge a fair deal and their determination not to be affected by acrimonious issues are crucial in keeping the momentum of the peace negotiations, a political analyst said on Tuesday.
Professor Bobby Tuazon, director for Policy Studies of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) said President Rodrigo Duterte’s commitment to finish the peace talks within his term is a positive step on the part of the government.
However, Tuazon stressed that if the President wants to have accurate information on the ground, he should stop listening to the military which he described as a “peace spoiler.”
“Mr. Duterte should listen to his own panel as well as to independent reports from the tri-media and human rights groups,” he said.
According to Tuazon, at least 30 activists and farmers have been killed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and paramilitary units since July last year. This is aside from the bombing of communities in Mindanao, Abra, and other provinces following the president’s directive to the military to launch an “all-out war” against the New People’s Army.
“The AFP has not been candid in admitting that military operations also continue in the provinces. Unfortunately, many accounts reveal that government forces have been suffering some setbacks,” he added.
The government and NDFP resumed peace negotiations on Tuesday in the Netherlands, a process seen by both sides as “difficult.”
Asked if the negotiations will prosper despite obstinate refusal of the President to release political prisoners, one of the demands of the communist group, Tuazon said the government panel and NDFP on March 11 issued a joint communique in Utrecht clearly stating that the Duterte government will release a number of political prisoners on humanitarian grounds before the resumption of talks in April.
“President Duterte has not acted on this commitment,” he added.
Tuazon believes that the forging of a bilateral ceasefire is possible since both panels have agreed to discuss a truce which is necessary so that both parties can tackle with less hindrance the substantive agenda, especially the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).