April 3, 2017
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.
Duterte should consult with his peace panel. 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 NDFP has shown flexibility, by demanding that releases be made after the signing of the CASER, in the hopes that this can move the peace negotiations forward.
Rather than creating more stumbling blocks or obstacles to the talks, the GRP should earnestly negotiate an agreement on socio-econ reforms that will address the roots of the armed conflict. 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.
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. ###