Duterte hints of resuming peace talks with communists
CITY OF MALOLOS—Saying that one of his campaign promises was to resolve the problems with the communist rebels, President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday described his decision to formally end the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) as a “cooling off” period.
Duterte issued on Nov. 24 a proclamation that ended the talks between the government and the CPP. This week, he signed another proclamation declaring the CPP, its political arm, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, as terrorist organizations.
But in a speech he gave during a program to mark the 84th foundation anniversary of the Department of Labor and Employment at the Bulacan capitol gymnasium here, Duterte said: “Let’s give time for cooling off with the rebels.”
“Pahinga muna tayo… nagkalabuan lang (Let’s take some time to rest while things are still unclear… we just had a disagreement),” he told the crowd that included Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the chief negotiator of the government peace panel.
“Let us raise it (negotiation) to the level of walang atake (no attacks),” Duterte said, adding that this was why the best option at the moment for both sides was “just to keep silent.”
But he said the rebels would have to stop illegal activities like imposing revolutionary taxes on businesses.
At the same time, Duterte said he was pursuing peace talks with secessionist groups like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front.
He said the country will never enjoy peace if fighting continues in Mindanao. /jpv
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