Several political pundits cannot help but give speculations about the recent decision of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on the scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the on-going peace negotiations happening as we speak between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines peace panel and the National Democratic Front (NDF) representatives of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.
Last month, Duterte announced renewed talks with the Communists, reportedly part of his commitment to solve the 40 year old Maoist insurgency. Duterte directed his bunkmate, Labor secretary Silvestre Bello III, whom he always refer to as a “Communist” to revive scuttled talks between government and the exiled Party leaders led by Jose Maria Sison based in the Netherlands.
Many are guessing that the Communists must have asked Duterte to do the “unthinkable” by requesting for the abrogation of the VFA as a “peace gesture” or “confidence building measure.” This is by no way impossible considering that Duterte is known for dispensing monumental decisions at the whim.
Aside from political academic Walden Bello, no one or at least no official statement was issued by the CPP-NPA on the scrapping of the VFA and to follow, possibly EDCA or the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo in an exclusive and personal interview with Ted Failon over his radio program over DZMM-Teleradyo, Duterte is even thinking of including the EDCA. Panelo says the President is not keen on re-negotiating both the VFA and soon the EDCA.
Is this Duterte’s way of formalizing peace with the enemies of the state? What are the other issues which both panels are discussing?