PNoy’s snub of Jalandoni may jeopardize peace talks

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Religious groups and human rights advocates yesterday expressed  disappointment over the decision of President Benigno “PNoy” Aquino III to snub the leaders of  the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic  Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

The Society of Ex-Detainees for Liberation and Amnesty (Selda) also warned this might lead to total collapse of the scheduled  resumption of the peace talks between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDF.

Selda executive director Fr. Dionisio Cabillas of the Philippine Independent Church (PIC) said Mr.Aquino’s action “undermines the efforts of church workers, peace advocates and human rights organizations for resuming the peace talks.”

Cabillas said the President’s snubbing of Luis Jalandoni, who planned to give a  courtesy call to President Aquino, showed the “arrogance” of the government and its  insincerity in forging peace with communist rebels.

Jalandoni is the chief of the peace negotiating panel of the NDF.

After receiving word of Jalandoni’s plans, President Aquino announced that he is not interested in giving a presidential audience to the rebel leader.

He also said he will first consult the head and other members of the GRP peace panel regarding the visit of  Jalandoni set next month.

Reacting to the President’s action and announcement, NDF negotiating panel vice chair Fidel Agcaoili said  in a statement that the Aquino administration is only “trying to make the NDFP look like a beggar.”

“Worst, they are capable of arresting in Manila Chairperson Jalandoni and Ms. Coni Ledesma, member of the NDFP negotiating panel, to show off their reactionary power and kind of law over the NDF,” Agcaoili said.

The human rights group Karapatan, on the other hand, said that Aquino’s action is courting more human rights abuses.

“If the president closes the door on peace, the gates for more human rights abuses would be flung open,” it said.

Karapatan  also reiterated its call to the Aquino administration not to ask for any conditions for the resumption of the peace talks to show its sincerity in forging lasting peace.

The group also reiterated its call for the release of all political prisoners and the compensation of all victims of human rights abuses. Albus D. Estabas

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