Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has withdrawn his position as consultant to the communist National Democratic Front in peace talks with the government.
Duterte recently made the announcement following a letter from Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, directing him to refrain from doing so.
“They told me to refrain then I will refrain,” Duterte reportedly said.
NDF chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni asked Duterte last September to become part of the NDF panel as a resource person.
Jalandoni has described Duterte as having “rich political experience that could help in the pursuit of peace.”
Former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo has explained that Duterte’s efforts to establish peace in Davao by reaching out to both the military and the communist movement, was the main consideration.
Meanwhile, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte came under fire from the communist rebels. Sara earlier called for the surrender of New People’s Army leaders and members.
“Her idea of peace, calling for the Red Fighters to surrender and then talk, is like putting a gun on the head, neutralize people while talking; and relegating to the backseat the occasion to listen and understand why people are poor and bear arms against an oppressive state,” Rubi del Mundo, NDF spokesperson in Southern Mindanao said.
“This is devoid of any statesmanship supposedly expected from an elected official whose government is talking peace with the NDF,” Del Mundo added. She further accused Sara Duterte of endorsing the 69th Infantry Batallion’s “overbearing presence against the masses in [Davao’s] Paquibato.
While it is too early to know the real repercussions of Duterte’s withdrawal, it appears that the vice mayor’s withdrawal affected the NDF’s stock in the peace negotiations. While just a local executive, Duterte holds a relatively significant clout in the national political scene.
Duterte could have played the rebels’ direct link to Malacanang. He could have propped the chances of the rebels to forge a peace deal with the government, which is now appearing more and more unlikely.
The peace talks with communist rebels have not moved. The government has complained of the rebels’ continuing offensive attacks and unreasonable requests for the release of jailed comrades.