DESPITE the issuance of a presidential proclamation terminating the peace negotiations with the communist rebels, President Rodrigo Duterte said government negotiators can “resuscitate” the talks “at some other time.”
“I will pursue peace with the rebels but there’s a misunderstanding. Let’s give time for a cooling off with the Communist Party of Philippines. I told Bebot Sila Bebot and others to get a rest because there’s a misunderstanding,” the President said at the 84th anniversary celebration of Department of Labor and Employment held in the city of Malolos, Bulacan.
“I have to stop the talks with the NPA (New People’s Army). But Bebot and company can always resuscitate it at some other time,” he added, referring to chief peace negotiator Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III and other members of the state’s peace panel.
Duterte’s statement came after he signed two proclamations, ordering the termination of talks and declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed component, the NPA, as terrorists.
On December 6, the President also revealed his plan to order “mass arrest” of communist leaders who were earlier released to participate in the peace talks.
The President also made the pronouncement a day after Bello expressed hope that there would be resumption of talks between the government and the communists.
Bello said there is still a “chance” that the government peace panel and the communsit group would revive talks, noting that the end of talks was just a “setback” as the two parties sought to achieve peace and order.
“The President wants to give a country a just, inclusive, and lasting peace. But there’s a setback on the road to peace, one of the big humps in the road to peace. But I’m sure that the humps will someday disappear and we will go back to the road to peace,” Bello said in a chance interview with reporters in Pampanga on Thursday, December 7,
“But there’s still a chance [for the resumption of talks],” he added. (SunStar Philippines)