DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday, April 5, that he fully supports the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to revive the peace negotiations with the communist rebels as long as certain conditions are met.
He said the President listed seven: bilateral ceasefire; no coalition in government with them; no attacks on government forces and civilians; no extortion; no destruction of properties; no expansion and recruitment; and no roaming around with firearms.
"I support this last chance initiative of the President," Lorenzana said.
Presidential Adviser to the peace process Jesus Dureza said Wednesday that Duterte expressed openness for the resumption of the peace talks.
“President Duterte directed during the Cabinet meeting to work on the resumption of peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF with clear instructions on the importance of forging a ceasefire agreement to stop mutual attacks and fighting while talks are underway,” he said.
CPP refers to the Communist Party of the Philippines. The NPA, or New People's Army, is its armed wing, while NDFP, or National Democratic Front of the Philippines, is its political arm.
“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,” he added.
CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison welcomed the possible resumption of the peace talks, but noted that there should be no preconditions.
"Kapag may gusto, dapat may laya 'yung anumang panig na magreklamo. Ihapag niya sa pag-uusapan ng dalawang panig. Doon nalulutas 'yung problema," he said.
He also cited the Hague declaration which prohibits preconditions for such negotiations.
"The holding of peace negotiations must be in accordance with mutually acceptable principles, including national sovereignty, democracy and social justice and no precondition shall be made to negate the inherent character and purpose of the peace negotiations," the declarations reads.
In November 2017, Duterte ordered the termination of the peace talks with the communists due to the series of attacks conducted by the NPA against the government security forces amid the ongoing peace negotiations.
He also tagged the NPA rebels as terrorists.
Meantime, the PNP expressed support for the possible resumption of the peace talks and urged the rebel group to be sincere in order for the negotiations to prosper.
"The PNP is pro-peace and we support all government efforts to achieve lasting peace,” PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao said.
“All of us have witnessed the sincerity of the government through President Duterte for exhausting all possible means to hold the peace negotiation with the CPP-NPA-NDF. The rebels however should show sincerity and good faith while talking peace with the government. They need to show control of their men on the ground so that the final peace talk may succesfully work," he added. (SunStar Philippines)