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Bayan to Duterte: Listen to the people, not your generals

Audrey Morallo - Philstar.com
Bayan to Duterte: Listen to the people, not your generals
Bayan called on President Rodrigo Duterte to listen to the people rather than his own generals, whom they labeled as "pro-US militarists."
Bayan / Released

MANILA, Philippines — Progressive organization Bagong Alyansang Makabayan criticized President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday for hoisting several preconditions before peace talks between the government and communist rebels could resume, saying that these conditions were the very issues being negotiated and addressed in the talks.

In a statement, Bayan said that demanding that these preconditions be met was “putting the cart before the horse.”

“President Duterte cannot use as preconditions for the resumption of peace talks the very issues being negotiated and addressed in the peace talks. That would be putting the cart before the horse. That would be negating the very nature of the talks,” the group said, adding that the president should stop listening to his generals and “pro-US militarists.”

On Monday, the chief executive blamed the communist rebels for the stalling of the negotiations, insisting that his conditions be met first before the talks could restart.

“We are facing so many fronts. We are facing the NPAs. We are having talks in Netherlands. They have not made any progress because I have some conditions to impose before we go back to [the talks],” the group said.

The president said it was the New People’s Army that should be blamed for their current setbacks as he noted that the group staged several attacks against government forces even before they terminated the unilateral truce.

The NPA, designated a terrorist organization by the US, said in February that it staged the attacks because of the continued detention of so-called political prisoners and military incursions into their “territories.”

Bayan said the president’s conditions of ceasefire terms of reference, the release of rebel-held government troops, cessation of the collection of “revolutionary” taxes and stoppage of any territorial claims were better discussed and settled during the peace talks.

The group also noted that Duterte himself rejected the release of political prisoners who the president said should be released only at the conclusion of the negotiations.

Bayan said: “The issues he raised — bilateral ceasefire, taxation and territory– are best addresed DURING the peace talks, not BEFORE and not as PRECONDITIONS. Duterte himself has stubbornly rejected calls for the release of all political prisoners, which he says should only come at the end of the peace talks.”

The leftist group said that the communist side had even shown flexibility by demanding the release of the prisoners after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-economic Reforms (CASER) to move the peace talks forward.

Bayan called on the government to negotiate on the socio-economic reforms it claimed would address the roots of the armed rebellion.

“This will go a long way in addressing the concerns that Duterte raised at the start of the talks. Free land distribution is a good starting point in addressing the roots of the rebellion,” it said.

“The people’s demand for a just peace should be the main motivation for continuing and accelerating peace negotiations. Duterte is once more advised: Listen to the people, not the generals and pro- US militarists,” the group said.

Bayan has supporters in government positions, including Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano and Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo. Former Gabriela party-list Rep. Liza Maza is lead convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission and former Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon is chairman of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor.

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES

BAYAN

PEACE TALKS

RODRIGO DUTERTE

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