President Duterte bows before thousands of supporters at the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan campaign rally at the Marikina Hotel and Convention Center in Marikina City the other day.
Duterte cancels talks with Reds permanently
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - March 22, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte yesterday announced what he described as the “permanent” termination of peace talks with the communists days after he terminated the appointments of members of the government peace panel. 

Duterte, who vowed to end the decades-old Maoist insurgency before he steps down, said he would no longer entertain any attempt to convince him to return to the negotiating table. 

“I am officially announcing the permanent termination of our talks between the government panel and the Communist Party of the Philippines,” Duterte said during the 122nd anniversary of the Philippine Army at Fort Bonifacio. 

“I am no longer entertaining any interventions or maybe persuasions in this democratic state of the Republic of the Philippines. My sense is that maybe you can talk to the next president of this republic one day,” he added. 

Duterte called the communist rebels “terrorists” in his speech and assailed them for allegedly taking over lands illegally. He also vowed to continue the government’s land reform, saying it would make the rebellion irrelevant. 

“I am telling the communists, you are not the ones who are capable of distributing land,” he said. 

Duterte warned the rebels he would order state forces to shoot them dead if they forcibly occupy lands. He said the illegal occupation of land was made possible by what he described as the “lousy” job of former agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano, who was aligned with the left. 

Earlier this month, Duterte terminated the services of government negotiators to pave way for localized talks. 

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the administration would pursue localized peace talks to address the communist rebellion that has hounded the country for more than five decades. 

“New panels will be created,” Panelo said at a press briefing yesterday, adding these would be composed of sectoral representatives, local government units and the military.

The Office of the President terminated the services of government peace panel chairman Silvestre Bello III and four other negotiators last March 18.

The termination was in line with Duterte’s decision to scrap the negotiations with the communists in 2017. The President canceled the talks after accusing the rebels of failing to show sincerity in pursuing peaceful negotiations because of their violent acts. 

Malacañang confirmed yesterday the termination letters, dated March 18, and sent separately to Bello and panel members Antonio Arellano, Angelo Librado-Trinidad, Rene Sarmiento and Hernani Braganza.

Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Carlito Galvez was furnished a copy of the letter.

The President ordered all the panel officials to “turn over all official documents, papers and properties” related to the peace talks in their possession to the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process.

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