MANILA -- Pursuing peace negotiations with the CPP-NPA-NDF in 2018 is unlikely, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday citing betrayal by the communist group.
Roque stated this when asked if he sees any chance for peace talks to resume next year after it was canceled by President Rodrigo Duterte in November for “recent tragic and violent incidents all over the country committed by the communist rebels.”
"Dahil nga po sa katraydoran nila, baka malabo na po iyan. Pero sa panig po ng mga Moro naman ay naniniwala tayo na makakamit natin ang mas matagalang kapayapaan," Roque said.
On November 23, President Duterte signed Proclamation No. 360, declaring the cancellation of peace talks and on December 5, he signed another proclamation formally designating the NPA as a terrorist group.
The government has an existing holiday truce with the communist rebels which will stay until the New Year.
"Basta tayo ay hindi tayo nagtaksil sa ating pangako. Tayo po ay may isang salita. Hayaan na natin ang mga NPA na ipakita ang tunay nilang anyo na mga traydor. Pero ang mandato po ng Presidente, tuloy pa rin ang ceasefire para sa Bagong Taon," he said in a radio interview.
Should the rebels engage government forces despite the ceasefire, the latter would not be condemned for defending themselves.
"Siyempre, hindi naman tayo papayag na lang na patayin ang ating kasundaluhan ng ating mga kalaban, kung kinakailangan puwede silang gumamit ng dahas by way of self-defense,” Roque said.
Achievement of peace has been one of the goals that Duterte vowed to pursue within his term. While he has called off talks with the communists, he has not given up on the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front.
As one of his centerpieces during the campaign, Duterte pledged “to work hard” for the Bangsamoro Basic Law passage. (PNA)