DAVAO CITY, January 31, 2017 — Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza today said the government is “distressed and extremely disturbed” by a recent series of “attacks and harassments” staged allegedly by New People’s Army (NPA) members on government troops in various areas in the country.
Dureza’s statement came only days after government and the NDFP finished the third round of peace talks in Rome, which the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said was “difficult but successful.”
Ironically, a number of clashes between members of the NPA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) ensued in North Cotabato while the talks were ongoing, resulting in the deaths of at least two rebels and eight soldiers.
Dureza’s statement indicated he was accusing the NPA of mounting the attacks, although the NDFP has also come out with statements saying it was the other way around.
Reacting to the alleged attacks on government troops, Dureza said:
Either some in NDFP leadership talking to the government are not in full control of their own forces on the ground or they are themselves undermining these efforts for sustainable peace, or pressuring government for certain concessions.
Dureza said the unilateral ceasefire “was precisely set in place to provide an enabling environment for the ongoing peace talks.”
He said it was also intended to secure the support of the stakeholders and the bigger public “in understanding and supporting these unprecedented, although small but significant steps, for sustainable peace in the land.”
“We do not wish to unnecessarily squander those gains that even saw President Duterte exercising strong political will to move the peace process forward,” he added.
Dureza said the President “will definitely walk the extra mile for peace” but added that the NDFP must also reciprocate accordingly and do the same.
“The road to peace is not smooth and easy. Let us all help to successfully traverse it,” he said.