President Rodrigo Duterte wants Norway out as the facilitator of the peace talks and insists that the talks between the government and the communist rebels should be held in the Philippines, Malacañang said Monday.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said there was no need to go to another country like Norway to talk peace because the negotiators were all Filipinos.
“This is a talk between Filipinos,” Roque quoted Duterte as saying, adding there was no point in holding the talks in another country.
He made his statement even as Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday denied the rebels’ claim that the future military offensives against them were the reason the resumption of the peace negotiations set on June 28 was canceled.
“That is not true,” Lorenzana said.
“The President decided that he needs more time to review all past agreements between the NDF [National Democratic Front] and the GRP [Government of the Republic of the Philippines] and the results of the recent back-channeling talks.”
Roque agreed with Lorenzana and said the rebels’ claim was without basis.
He said the military was busy confronting the armed groups in Lanao del Sur, but the firefight was not directly intended against the rebels.
He called on the rebels to go slow in making public declarations with regard to the peace talks between them and the government.
He said it would be sad if the Communist Party of the Philippines would not agree to having the peace talks in the Philippines.
“I’m hopeful that, with the sincerity shown by the government, the venue should not matter,” Roque said.
He said the peace talks must be held here and in July instead of this month.
“I do not know if [the talks were] originally scheduled for the 24th [of June] because that information came from [CPP founding chairman] Joma Sison,” Roque said.
“I never announced that date. That is why the term that I used is that the continuation of the talks will be in July as declared by the President. I do not feel bound by anything that Mr. Sison says.
“But the President is dead-serious about it. He has already asked the Department of Justice to file the necessary motions in Court to set free the individuals who will be participating in the talks, and I think that is the best evidence of good faith on the part of the government.”