Terror tag petition vs. Reds may be put on hold if peace talks resume

THE government's petition seeking to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), as terror groups would not be withdrawn until a peace agreement is signed.

But it may be put on hold if peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), political arm of the communists, resume.

"Perhaps, if the talks resume, the government may file a manifestation to hold in abeyance the petition filed before the court, pending the outcome of the peace talks," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Thursday, April 5.

"I think it will only be withdrawn if there is a final peace agreement signed. But while the peace talks are ongoing, (the petition) will not be withdrawn," he added.

The President signed on December 5, 2017 Proclamation 374, classifying the CPP/NPA as a terror organization because of the crimes they supposedly committed "against the Filipino people, against humanity, and against the law of the nations."

Less than two weeks before this, Duterte also inked Proclamation 360, formally ending the peace talks with the NDFP.

Duterte issued the two proclamations after he was dismayed by the NPA insurgents' persistent attacks against the Philippine troops.

On April 3, however, the President again softened his stance and said he was willing to allow the government peace panel to negotiate with NDFP again if the NPA stops extoring money, burning properties, and killing people.

During the 24th Cabinet meeting held Wednesday, April 4, Duterte said he would like to give the communists "another last chance" to revive the talks.

Roque said the dialogue between the government peace panel and the NDFP would only resume, if the communist group heeds the conditions set by Duterte.

He said the revival of talks would depend on the communists' commitment to honor a "genuine" and "absolute" ceasefire; cease and desist from collecting revolutionary tax; and stop insisting on a coalition government.

"So if the CPP-NPA would agree to these conditions, then peace talks could resume," the presidential spokesperson said.

"He (Duterte) is very serious in achieving peace for the entire Philippines, and that includes peace with the CPP-NPA, as he has been genuine on his desire from the very beginning," he added.

CPP founder Jose Maria Sison on Tuesday, April 3, said the communists are "open and ready" to the possible resumption of talks.

Roque revealed that Sison, a former professor of Duterte who went into self-exile in the Netherlands, might return home without getting arrested once the talks resume.

"If peace talks resume, the President said he's even able and willing to grant Joma Sison an assurance that he can come home without being arrested for the purpose of participating in the peace talks," he said. (SunStar Philippines)
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