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Duterte optimistic about peace talks revival

MULANAY, Quezon – President Duterte is optimistic the peace negotiation between his administration and the communist rebels would reopen again.

However, he asked the New People’s Army rebels, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to rest their guns for a ceasefire.

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“I do not want to fight with you. So if we are going to talk (peace) again – I believe we will talk again – then you should calm down,” Duterte said in a speech here before the beneficiaries of the government’s land reform program.

On April 4, the President declared that the talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) should resume in 60 days from the day he ordered Peace Secretary Jesus Dureza to find ways to reopen it.

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Duterte reiterated his invitation to his former teacher in college, exiled CPP founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison and other leaders of the NDFP living abroad to return home.

“Then we will talk. I will talk with Sison,” the President said.

But if the peace talks fail after 60 days, Duterte said he would still honor his commitment.

On the other hand, Duterte insisted that there were certain demands from the communist rebels which “I cannot give because it is not mine.”

“For example a coalition government, how can I do that? If I give in to that, the military and police will turn against me, there might be a coup d’état,” he said.

He made it clear that under the Philippine system of government, only the elected officials have the right to run the affairs of the state.

Duterte said being an elected president is “a sacred obligation reposed in me by the Filipino people.”

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“I have to act in accordance with the Constitution and the laws of the land. I cannot be a President and a violator,” he said.

Duterte said the resumption of talks between the government and the communist rebels, which he had ordered, would be the final straw in his efforts to make peace with the insurgents.

Meanwhile, Sison, in a statement from his base in Utrecht, The Netherlands, declared that he would return home “when a significant advance in the peace negotiations has been achieved within the framework of The Hague Joint Declaration and when my comrades and lawyers are satisfied with legal and security precautions.”

Sison maintained that if he returned to the Philippines prematurely, “I expose not only myself but also the entire peace process to extremely high risks of violent sabotage and termination by spoilers who are out to terminate the peace process once and for all.”

Last month, the two panels met for five days in Utrecht for back-channel talks to pave the way for the resumption of the formal negotiation.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who serves as government peace panel chair, declared that they expected formal talks to start any time now.

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TAGS: back-channel talks, Ceasefire, CPP, duterte, Jesus Dureza, Jose Maria Sison, land reform program, NDFP, NPA, Peace Talks, Silvestre Bello III
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