US, oligarchs may spoil peace talks: OPAPP exec

Christian Esguerra. ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 06 2016 02:42 PM | Updated as of Dec 06 2016 11:55 PM

Peace Process Head Jesus Dureza and President Rodrigo Duterte. File/Composite

MANILA - The United States and other "forces" opposed to President Rodrigo Duterte may "sabotage" peace talks with communist rebels, a government peace official warned Tuesday.

Interests by "anti-Duterte forces" would be "threatened by genuine reforms" to be "embodied" in the final peace agreement with the rebels, according to Patricia Ruivivar, a director at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Included in her list were "oligarchs, drugs and crime syndicates, and corrupt officials."

"They may become spoilers in the process. That is why it's very important that we involve the Filipino people," she told ABS-CBN News.

Ruivivar said that an independent Philippine foreign policy would not be in Washington's interest because "of course, they want us to be dependent on (them)."

Dismantling monopolies and nationalizing certain industries would also hit businesses run by oligarchs, she said.

THREATS

Ruivivar said corporate media might also "launch massive counter propaganda to create division, sow fears, and confuse the people" about the government's peace efforts.

She cited these "threats" in response to a study criticizing media coverage of the peace process before formal talks resumed last August.

But respondents denied that "ownership influence" affected media coverage, according to a study by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication released Tuesday.

"Media owners, it was claimed, would only interfere in such coverage if stories affected the politics of the owners or advertising revenues," it said.

Media coverage of peace talks was generally "invisible" with reports relying mostly on information from the military, the study showed.

"The information in such stories is obtained from the military, which is understandably biased against the rebels," it said.

NOT SEXY

The study covered media reporting under President Benigno Aquino III, who focused on peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

A peace agreement was signed in 2014 but an implementing law, which would create a new Bangsamoro government, hit a wall in Congress.

Conceding that stories on the peace process were "not sexy," the study called on journalists to "upgrade" the "quantity and quality" of reports to include more "background and contextualization."

The government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines are set to sit down again next month in Rome for the most crucial phase of the talks.

They will tackle the root causes of the communist insurgency which has killed around 30,000 people in nearly half a century.