MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said late Wednesday the Duterte Administration and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) are returning to the negotiating table and continue the shelved peace negotiations.
The labor chief served as the government’s peace panel chief negotiator before.
He, however, begged off from giving further details about the renewed peace negotiations other than confirming CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison has allegedly agreed to go back to and discuss long and lasting peace with the Philippine government.
“CPP agrees to resume peace talks,” Bello said adding: “ (But) I am not at liberty to tell what transpired because I have to meet the President (first, tonight). All I can tell you is we agreed for the resumption, I cannot say where.”
This development came at a time Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana delivered a press statement saying the defense department will not be issuing a “ceasefire” with CPP’s armed group, the New People’s Army.
The reason for this, Lorenzana said, is the fact that the NPA uses the time to recruit the youth and even almost always renege on the ceasefire agreement by staging ambuscades against the military.
On the part of the CPP-PH peace talks, Bello said the process or what will be the set up for the resumption of the talks depends on President Duterte.
It was also learned from Bello, it was upon orders of the President that he accordingly flew to the Netherlands last Dec. 6 and met Sison the following day.
That meeting, Bello claimed was a “fruitful meeting” as it was attended by Sison and National Democratic Front (NDF) senior adviser Luis Jalandoni along with their respective wives as well as representatives of the Norwegian government.”
The meeting reportedly lasted for two days.
“I don’t want to give any details of the result of our talks. But what is important is that they are willing to resume the talks and they agreed to 90 percent of what the President said,” Bello stressed adding that “the President will be happy with the results of his meeting in the Netherlands.”
The peace talks with the CPP were suspended last May 2017 but Bello said the President did not really abandon his dream for lasting peace.
“There were different approaches, but he never abandoned it. Peace is his lasting legacy to our country,” Bello said.
If and when then peace talks would resume in the country, members of the CPP will not be arrested but Lorenzana said: “Sison is in no position to demand that resumption of the peace talks should be held in a neutral foreign country.”
The defense chief added that “the initiative for the possible revival of the already terminated peace talks was not from the government but from the group of Sison.”
It may be recalled President Duterte finally ordered the termination of the off-and-on peace talks last March due to continued rebel atrocities against civil and military targets.
It was gathered, that Sison earlier said the NDF cannot trust any “no arrest” declaration from the government if the peace talks will be held in the country.
Sison said that under the standing agreement between the Philippines and the NDF on the Joint Safety Immunity Guarantees, it is stated that the peace negotiations should be held in a neutral foreign venue. (IAMIGO/CNS)