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NDFP blames Duterte for missed social, economic reforms in canceled peace talks

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has put the blame on President Rodrigo Duterte for the failure to discuss social and economic reforms included in their now-terminated peace negotiations with the government.

In a statement on Thursday, the NDFP expressed disappointment over Duterte's decision to end the peace talks with them, saying that social and economic reforms that may result from these could have benefited millions of Filipinos.

"The NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms regrets the unilateral cancellation of talks on such vital social and economic reforms which, if implemented, would have immediately benefited tens of millions of oppressed and exploited Filipinos," it said.

"President Duterte bears full responsibility for the failure of the talks on social and economic reforms because of his sudden turn-around and heightened hostility to the revolutionary forces and the people," it added.

On Wednesday, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza announced that the Philippine government has ended its peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front.

"We are hereby announcing today the cancellation of all planned meetings with the CPP/NPA/NDF in line with President Duterte's directive that there will be no more peace talks with them," Dureza said in a statement.

"Recent tragic and violent incidents all over the country committed by the communist rebels left the president with no other choice but to arrive at this decision. We take guidance from the President's recent announcements and declarations," he added.

The NDFP, however, said that the cancellation of the peace talks came "at a time when unprecedented advances have already been achieved in forging agreements on urgently needed socio-economic reforms to alleviate mass poverty and resolve the roots of the armed conflict."

In fact, days before the cancellation of the peace talks, the NDFP said it has drafted with the Philippine government several documents on substantial agreements on agrarian reform and rural development, and on national industrialization and economic development.

These include free land distribution for tillers, farmers, farmworkers and fisherfolks, and an agreement on the need for national industrialization.

Other measures could were set to be tackled in the future had the peace talks been continued, the NDFP said.

"The GRP and NDFP RWCs-SER were optimistic that they would be able to complete the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) for signing by their respective negotiating panels and approval by their principals by January 2018," it added.

This was not the first time that Duterte had ended talks with the NDFP. He did so in February and in July.

In October, Duterte indicated that he would still want to talk to the New People's Army. — RSJ, GMA News