PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to resume the stalled peace talks with the communist rebels but subject to three conditions, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Thursday.
He said Duterte wants the New People’s Army, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front to honor a genuine ceasefire, and that there will be no shooting if and when the peace talks resume.
Duterte also wants the CPP-NPA to desist from collecting its so-called revolutionary tax while the ceasefire is ongoing and that the communist rebels will not insist on a coalition government.
In other developments:
• The Duterte administration should withdraw its bid to declare the communist guerrillas as terrorists before fanning hopes of reviving the stalled peace talks with the group, their exiled leader Jose Maria Sison said Thursday.
The Justice department has a pending petition before a Manila court to cite the National Democratic Front’s ‘s political wing, the Communist Party of the Philippines, and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, as terrorist organizations.
• The government will push through with its petition seeking to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, as terrorist groups, Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes said Thursday.
“We are all for peace. However, the peace talks have not actually resumed. For the time being, there being no order to the contrary, we will pursue the petition as filed,” Balmes said.
• The Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Thursday supported Duterte’s decision to return to resume the peace talks with the communist rebels.
“The AFP supports the administration in all its efforts and initiatives to bring just and lasting peace and development for the country,” military spokesman Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin said in a statement.
• Two lawmakers on Thursday welcomed Duterte’s decision to resume the peace talks with the communists.
“We welcome the orders of President Duterte to resume the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines,” Rep. Antinio Tinio said.
“We should still be alert on the possible peace spoilers who have no desire to address the roots of the armed conflict,” Rep. France Castro said.
Roque said the military operations against the communist rebels will continue because there has been no peace negotiations or ceasefire yet.
He expressed hope that the NPA-CPP-NDF will accept the government’s offer to resume the stalled peace talks and to observe an absolute ceasefire.
“The peace talks have yet to start, the military operations against the communist rebels will continue. We will not let the rebels to attack our soldiers and get killed,” he said.
Roque also said the communist rebels must desist from collecting their so-called revolutionary tax while the ceasefire is in effect. The rebels must also not insist on a coalition government “which is absolutely not part of the bargaining table. With Rey E. Requejo and Maricel V. Cruz