President Rodrigo Duterte called off peace talks with the communist rebels due to the continuing attacks against the government forces, including the new violence on Wednesday that killed at least four presidential guards in North Cotabato province.
On Wednesday, Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza said that the peace talks–its fifth round–with the communist rebels remain suspended.
“The talks, the fifth round are still officially suspended, okay? There is no decision to resume it.” Dureza said
Duterte was not in the area when the clash involving members of his elite guards occurred in Arakan town in southern North Cotabato province.
Malacanang said in a statement released on Wednesday that Duterte told the peace panel that formal talks with the communists will not resume until the NPA stops attacking government troops.
The Palace said Duterte held a meeting to discuss the possible signing of a bilateral ceasefire agreement with communist rebels on the scheduled fifth round of talks in August.
“During their meeting held at Malacañan Palace, the President directed the government panel negotiating with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) not to resume formal peace talks unless the Reds agree to stop their attacks against government troops in Mindanao,” the Palace said.
Duterte also stated that the communist should stop fighting the government forces in Mindanao otherwise there would be no peace negotiations.
“The Reds really need to stop engaging the military in Mindanao if they want to continue the peace negotiations, adding that the government has always dealt with the communist rebels in good faith,” the Palace said quoting Duterte.
Supposedly, the fifth round of talks between the government peace panel and the NDF consultants was initially set from May 27 to June 1 but was cancelled due to “serious challenges” faced by both parties.