President Rodrigo Duterte recently cancelled the resumption of peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front, which was supposed to take place on June 28 in Oslo, Norway. This was to give way to thorough public consultations.
The Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, which are under the NDF, have been waging their “people’s war” since 1969. CPP Founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison now lives as a political refugee in The Netherlands since 1987.
The peace process with the left-wing groups has been a seemingly unending challenge for the government. Norway has served as the third-party facilitator of negotiations for almost two decades. The peace talks were deferred until July.
Following the deferment of the peace negotiations is Sison’s expression of disappointment and frustration with the Duterte administration. He is against holding the formal talks in the Philippines. However, the Palace reiterated that the negotiations should be done in Philippine soil, most especially because it is more cost-effective to hold the negotiations here. The President assured Sison’s safety in the Philippines during the 60-day negotiation period, and that he can leave the country freely in case the negotiations fall through.
The United States and the European Union have already classified the CPP-NPA as a foreign terrorist organization. In December 2017, by virtue of Proclamation No. 374, President Duterte declared the CPP-NPA as a designated/identified terrorist organization under RA 10168, otherwise known as “The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.” In February 2018, the Department of Justice filed a petition before the Manila Regional Trial Court to legally declare the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization, in accordance to Section 17 of the Human Security Act of 2007. The government may opt to withdraw the petition with the resumption of the peace talks.
The President, as the Chief Executive of our country, must prioritize the welfare and protection of the majority. While I agree to where the government stands in the peace process, I would encourage the President to fast-track the negotiations and be firm with his decisions. Let us not prolong the peace process. This July is an opportunity to break what seems like an impasse. Let us take advantage of this chance to put an end to the 50-year communist insurgency.