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NDFP consultant optimistic on peace talks resumption in 2019

LUCENA CITY – A detained “peace consultant” of the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has expressed optimism that the stalled peace talks will resume in 2019.

“The GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) is bound to reconsider, as it is incessantly confronted and besieged in all possible arenas of struggle, both armed and unarmed,” Rey Casambre, also the executive director of the Philippine Peace Center, said in a statement issued by the NDFP Sunday.

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He added: “The negotiating table will increasingly become a palatable and practical option.”

Casambre noted that the NDFP, the political arm of the communist insurgents, “has repeatedly and consistently declared that they remain open to the resumption of talks provided these are in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration and all other prior agreements and shall seriously negotiate basic reforms.”

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Casambre said peace advocates, including the entire legal democratic movement, are calling for the resumption of peace talks, honoring all agreements and addressing the roots of the armed conflict.

“They are undaunted and unfazed by all the red-tagging, terrorist tagging and repressive attacks. They continue to hold the high moral ground and gain more adherents,” Casambre said.

The peace talks between the government and the NDFP bogged down last year as the administration cited the continued attacks by NPA rebels against state troops despite ongoing negotiations. The Duterte administration was now pushing for localized peace talks with the communist guerrillas on the ground after the negotiations stalled.

Casambre said the much-ballyhooed local peace talks with local NPA commands “never materialized.”

“Not a single local command heeded the GRP call for talks to address the roots of the armed conflict on the ground,” he said.

“On the contrary, several NPA commands issued statements rejecting the GRP call,” he added.

Earlier, the NDFP has ruled out localized peace talks as the method of negotiation to deal with the decades-old rebellion and said the NPA units are not authorized to engage in peace negotiations. The policy is observed by all local units of the communist movement, the NDFP said.

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The NPA leadership also rejected the local peace talks.

Casambre, 67, and his wife Cora were arrested by police operatives from the Crime Investigation and Detection Group of the National Capital Region on Dec. 7 based on two warrants for murder and attempted murder issued by Judge Emilio Dayanghirang III of regional trial court branch 32 in Lupon, Davao Oriental.

Five days later, the city prosecutor found the allegation against the couple “preposterous” and ordered Cora’s release.

Casambre, however, had to stay at the police detention facility since he is facing separate charges of murder and attempted murder in Davao Oriental. /jpv

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