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Palace: Duterte still open to peace talks with Reds

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday said President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest plan to create a new five-member government peace panel was proof of his openness to talk with the communist insurgents, even if he had previously rejected the idea.

“If you notice, the President has made himself open to any talks on peace. He has been saying that ever since,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

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In a speech in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, on Saturday, the President said he was considering tapping representatives from the military and the civilian sector to negotiate with the rebels, as he himself was not willing to talk with them anymore.

“If you want to talk to me, I’ll send someone else. You talk to each other. I don’t want to talk anymore,” Mr. Duterte said.

“I’ll look for another way [to revive the peace talks] and new people to talk to. Maybe one, two or three from the military, and … Maybe around five. Two civilians and three from the military,” he added.

AFP supports talks

The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Monday said it would support the resumption of peace talks on the condition that Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Jose Maria Sison showed “sanity and coherence.”

“The AFP welcomes all efforts of the government toward attainment of the peace we have always been longing for,” said Col. Noel Detoyato, AFP Public Affairs Office chief.

But Sison, he said, “has to show sanity and coherence” and accept the fact that the “road he has taken is not one” that will achieve peace.

Sison, in a statement on his Facebook account on Sunday, criticized the President’s plan to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) with a panel composed of military men.

The NDFP represents the CPP and its military arm, New People’s Army, in the talks.

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“The NDFP does not want to be baited into accepting a war panel of the Duterte regime,” Sison said.

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TAGS: AFP, CCP, communist rebels, NPA, Peace Talks, Rodrigo Duterte, Salvador Panelo
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