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Palace: Talks in PH should not be an issue to Joma

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:48 AM December 09, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The possibility of holding peace negotiations in the country should not be an issue if the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is really sincere in forging a peace deal with the government, Malacañang said on Sunday.

“First of all, [President Rodrigo Duterte] never changed [his mind]. He has previously said that he is always open [to negotiations]. There’s [a door] ajar,”presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told Radyo Inquirer on Sunday.

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‘Unacceptable conditions’

Last week, Duterte directed Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, head of the government peace panel, to reach out to CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison, who is in self-exile in The Netherlands, to reopen peace talks between the government and communist rebels.

The President’s order came nine months after he terminated the negotiations, saying the CPP should just “talk to the next President of this Republic.

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‘Just bluffing’

In response to the government’s new initiative, Sison said in part that the “precondition [of resuming the talks in the Philippines] is totally unacceptable to the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) because it aims to put the NDFP and the entire peace negotiations… under the control and surveillance of the bloodthirsty military and police…”

Progressive groups have recently been under government surveillance, as highlighted by last month’s arrest of more than 50 activists in Negros Occidental.

But Panelo thinks Sison is “just bluffing”in rejecting the revival of the talks.

“In fact, he (Sison) is happy because he’s the one who wants to have the negotiations ever since. But they are not being sincere. They ambush our policemen and soldiers while we are in talks,” Panelo said in Filipino.

He said Sison and the other rebel leaders would not be arrested since all warrants against them would be suspended to give way to the talks.

Crucial points

Before the termination of the talks, the government and the rebels were able to agree on some crucial points in four rounds of negotiations, according to NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili.

Duterte had also pushed for localized peace talks, which the rebels opposed, saying the substantive agenda covered by the negotiations are beyond the scope of the local governments.

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The substantive agenda includes human rights, socioeconomic reforms, political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities and disposition of forces.

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