President Rodrigo Duterte has tasked a former activist and political detainee during the Marcos regime to conduct back-channel talks with the communist rebels or the possible resumption of the peace negotiation.
Movie and Television Review and Classification Board ember Avelino "Billy" Andal, in a statement, said the President told him of his new assignment in a wake which they both attended last week.
"I was asked by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to help in reviving the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and lead the backchanneling talks with the communist group led by CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison," he said.
Andal said he is willing and committed to help Duterte.
Andal, a former Philippine Coconut Authority administrator, was a student activist during the First
Quarter Storm in the 1970s and was detained during martial law.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo could not confirm Andal's new assignment to conduct backchannel talks with the Maoist group. But he said the President "has been open to that ever since."
"The only condition is (to) stop doing this ambuscades and extortion activities because he doesn’t want
Filipinos killing each other ? that has been his line and policy ever since, even when he was still a mayor," said Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel.
He also said that the problem in the peace process was the seeming "disparity" between Sison and the rebels on the ground.
"I think the problem is it seemed there is a disparity between him and the ground; apparently he's not being followed because otherwise if the ground forces are following him, (and) he wants to talk, they should follow the conditions," he added.
Duterte terminated the formal peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF in November last year due to the
atrocities and extortion activities that the NPA rebels have been committing. Celerina Monte/DMS