Duterte not yet ready to resume formal peace talks with Reds
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday he was not yet ready to resume the formal peace talks with the communist rebels.
This was after Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison earlier announced that the peace negotiations would resume on June 28.
"So, I'm talking to Sison, he said June. No, I'm not ready for that. I need a few more time," Duterte said in a speech during the mass oath-taking of newly-elected barangay captains in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Prior to Duterte's speech, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said Duterte canceled the supposed resumption of the formal peace talks later this month.
"The scheduled supposed resumption of talks that have been earlier subject of discussions by our back channel will not happen as originally set and as originally announced in the media," he said in a press briefing in Malacanang.
The decision was reached after Duterte presided over a command conference with the leadership of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Wednesday night in Malacanang.
Earlier in the day, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque admitted the police and military raised concern that the New People's Army might use the peace talks to "regroup."
"Well, they dwelt on the ongoing peace talks. You can appreciate that the president also wants a cooperation of our men in uniform in the peace talks, and it appears that both the PNP and the AFP are fully supportive of the peace talks, although there was a warning that in the past, the CPP-NPA will take advantage of peace talks to regroup and to strengthen their ranks," he said.
Dureza said Duterte wants to have further public consultation regarding peace talks with the Reds.
"Our peace efforts to succeed should have good support from the general public hence it is necessary that all efforts be exerted to inform and engage them in the same way as the government engages the rebels in addressing the root causes of conflict," he said.
"The almost 50 years of intermittent and often-times disrupted peace negotiations with the communist rebels across several presidencies need a close study for lessons to learn from to ensure that our 'last chance' to put a dignified closure to the armed rebellion will not be squandered away," he added.
Dureza also said there is a need to achieve a "conducive and enabling" environment before the peace talks resume.
The last formal peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front, the political wing of the CPP-NPA, took place in February last year.
But due to atrocities and extortion the NPA rebels continue to commit, Duterte terminated the peace process. He even asked the court to declare the CPP-NPA as terrorist organizations.
Last April, Duterte changed his position and declared that he wants to give peace talks the last chance. He even invited Sison to come home. Thus, back-channel talks between the government and the NDF have taken place. Celerina Monte/DMS