MANILA - Malacañang has terminated a government panel tasked to hold peace talks with communist rebels, according to documents released Wednesday.
In a letter dated March 18, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea told Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III that his role as chairman of the government’s peace negotiating panel “is hereby terminated immediately.”
“To ensure uninterrupted delivery of public service, you are hereby directed to turn over all official documents, papers, and properties in your possession to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity,” Medialdea said.
Medialdea also sent letters to Antonio Arrelano, Angela Librado-Trinidad, Rene Sarmiento, and Hernani Braganza which said that their role as members of the government peace panel has also been terminated.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation No. 360 on Nov. 23, 2017 declaring the termination of peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines - Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army.
Another resumption was scheduled in late June last year but it was cancelled as the government sought to review all agreements the communists signed with past administrations.
Government troops have pursued offensives against communist rebels across the country since the suspension of talks.
In December last year, Duterte signed Executive Order No. 70 directing the creation of a national task force to “end local communist armed conflict.”
Government has also sought the declaration of the communist movement as a terrorist group.