Peace talks with reds need Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines okay –– Duterte

November 23, 2018
Rodrigo R. Duterte
Rodrigo R. Duterte

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has called on communist leader Jose Maria Sison to present to him a “final draft” amid stalled peace negotiations between the government and the communist rebels.

“I’ll talk to Sison. Give me the final draft and if I like it, I’ll pass it on to the military and the police. Sabihin ko, ‘O, is this all right with you?’” Duterte said in a speech during the inauguration of the Cavite Gateway Terminal in Tanza, Cavite.

“Kasi kung hindi naman tanggapin ng military, police, i-coup d’etat ka naman. Anak ng jueteng.”

Duterte also said National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief peace negotiator Fidel Agcaoili and Luis Jalandoni, senior adviser to the negotiating panel, should talk to Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

Bello is the government’s chief peace negotiator.

“This Agcaoili and Jalandoni would come here and talk to me. I said, ‘Why should I talk to you? You talk to Dureza and Bello,’” Duterte said.

Agcaoili, Jalandoni and NDFP negotiating panel member Coni Ledesma, however, decided on Monday not to push through with their trip to Manila for informal talks with the government due to security concerns.

Jalandoni cited the statement of Interior Secretary Eduardo Año last week that the NDFP officials would be arrested once they set foot in the country because they have existing arrest warrants.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, however, said that the NDFP officials would not be arrested upon their return to the country.

Chances for a negotiated end to the communist insurgency slumped in June after Duterte pushed the resumption of peace talks to a later date, saying he needed more time and more consultations on the matter.

Enraged by the move, Sison, the exiled founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, said it would be better to work for Duterte’s ouster and prepare for peace talks with the next administration.

Despite setbacks, Malacañang said the government remains open to peace negotiations with the CPP’s political arm, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, subject to certain conditions set by Duterte.

The President wanted the talks in the Philippines and for communist insurgents to stop collecting revolutionary taxes.

He also wanted hostilities against government forces stopped, with New People’s Army fighters “encamped,” and no demand for a coalition government.

Duterte himself allayed concerns of top peace negotiators of the communist rebels that they would be arrested once they set foot in the Philippines.