By: Karlos Manlupig – Correspondent / @kmanlupigINQ
Inquirer Mindanao / 10:16 PM November 24, 2017
DAVAO CITY – Despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of an executive order terminating the peace talks, the National Democratic Front on Friday said it was still waiting for an official communication from the government.
NDF chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said that formal negotiations were only considered terminated 30 days after either party had sent a letter of notice.
“We, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), hereby declare that we await receipt of the written notice of termination of the peace negotiations by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) as a consequence of the reported signing of Proclamation No. 360 by GRP President Duterte declaring such termination,” Agcaoili said.
Agcaoili said that the NDF was expecting the government to “comply with this provision.”
“The GRP-NDFP peace negotiations are governed by agreements. We expect the written notice to be sent to us immediately now that Proclamation No. 360 has been published,” Agcaoili said.
He said the experience in the talks was stressful for everyone involved because of Duterte’s outbursts.
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“In the past year, the GRP President has suspended or terminated the talks three times while these were ongoing or had just concluded. It has been the sad experience of the NDFP and the Third Party Facilitator, the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG), as well as the GRP’s own personnel, to be subjected to the whimsical and arbitrary outbursts of President Duterte,” Agcaoili said.
Agcaoili reminded Duterte that “no one can rule a country in Mafia-style fashion where it becomes a personal turf and all forms of opposition are wiped out while the Army and police are transformed into enforcers and hit-men.”
With Duterte vowing to arrest NDF consultants, Agcaoili said that negotiators and consultants were covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, which was signed by both parties in 1995.
Apart from security purposes, JASIG was also signed and implemented as a trust-building mechanism to ensure that both parties can continue to negotiate despite the ongoing conflict.
“In any event, in accordance with the JASIG, all immunities shall remain in full force and effect even after the termination of the peace negotiations,” Agcaoili said.
Duterte earlier said he had decided to terminate the talks because while he “walked the extra mile” for peace, the New People’s Army continued to launch attacks on the ground.
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The President, who used to have strong relationships with the Left, also vowed to go after legal progressive groups on the grounds of reported conspiracy with the NPA.