THERE is no official notice yet from President Rodrigo Duterte on the termination of peace negotiations with the communist rebels, Malacanang said on Wednesday.
In a press conference, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said the President’s statement to end peace talks was just his directive for now.
“Officially there’s none,” Abella said when asked about Duterte’s final instruction to send a formal letter of termination of peace talks to the communist rebels.
“However, you could say that at this particular stage, those are his directives. Unless otherwise,” he added. “Up to this point, we go by what the President has said.”
Duterte, in a press conference on Monday after his second State of the Nation (SONA), categorically declared that there would no longer be any peace talks with the communist rebels.
He said that the communist rebels would be the government troops’ next target as soon as the armed conflict in Marawi City has ended.
“No more talks,” the President has said. “If they want war, just wait until Marawi. We can better deal with you (then).”
Chief government negotiator Silvestre Bello 3rd, in a chance interview in Malacañang on Monday, said they were just waiting for the formal order of the President which would become the basis of the panel’s next step.
He said the government peace panel would send a written termination notice to the communists once the President has issued his final directive.
“We are waiting for the final instruction (from Duterte). To terminate the talks, we have to write them to inform them that we’re terminating,” Bello told reporters.
“It will take effect 30 days after the receipt of the letter, if they receive the notice of termination. Assuming that we send it… If he said we send a formal termination, then we would do that,” he added.
Bello also denied claims that the President’s statement to terminate peace talks was just a “bluff.”
“Hindi, totoo iyon. Sabi niya ayaw na niya [Nope, he means it. He said he no longer wants to talk],” he said.
Peace negotiations between the government and the communists’ political wing National Democratic Front (NDF) had been suspended following the continuous offensives by rebel forces against the security troops in the countryside.
Both parties were supposedly scheduled to resume dialogue last May 27 in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Jesus Dureza had said that the government would only continue talking with the communist rebels if its armed wing New People’s Army would stop from staging attacks.
Meanwhile, Abella downplayed the statement of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), saying “the US-Duterte regime is bound to face the Filipino and Moro people’s all-out resistance and it’s risking a fate worse than the detested US-Marcos dictatorship.”
“I think they have it distorted perception of what the President is doing. Basically, the President has been very open. He has actually engaged them. But from where the President is coming from, he has actually bent over backwards in trying to accommodate them,” Abella said.
“As his reactions lately, apparently, he doesn’t perceive that there is a commensurate response. So I don’t know about being worse or what, but the fact is, the President has been quite open and has actually engaged that party. Those parties with openness,” he added.