Duterte wants ‘another last chance’ for peace talks with Reds

MANILA — President Rodrigo R. Duterte wants to give peace negotiations with the communist rebels “another last chance,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza said Wednesday.

This, after the Chief Executive earlier said he would be “happy” to resume peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDFP) as long as the NPA stops its attacks, but Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the administration’s petition to tag the communist rebels as terrorists stays.

“The President said: Let’s give this another last chance. He also committed to provide support, if necessary, in replacement of the “revolutionary tax” that he asked be stopped,” Dureza said in a statement.

Dureza said during the Cabinet meeting Wednesday, the President directed them to work on the resumption of talks with the communist rebels with “clear instructions on the importance of forging a ceasefire agreement to stop mutual attacks and fighting while talks are underway”.

Guevarra earlier said the resumption of peace talks with the communists would be subjected to preconditions, which include the government’s demand for the communist rebels to lay down their arms.

“For now, that statement by the President, which is premised on certain preconditions, will not affect in anyway the pending petition for the proscription of certain individuals as terrorists or violators of the Human Security Act,” Guevarra said in a Palace briefing.

Guevarra explained that the terrorist tag stays because in the first place, peace negotiations have not even resumed yet.

Dureza earlier said that “the presence of an enabling environment” will be the “sole determining factor” to the resumption of peace talks.

Duterte started formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front shortly after he became President in 2016 but canceled them o November last year amid continued attacks of the NPA on government forces and civilians.

Duterte signed a proclamation in December 2017 declaring the CPP-NPA as a terror organization using Republic Act 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 as basis. (PNA)