Gov't to push for localized peace talks; Joma Sison irrelevant: Roque
The Duterte administration will push for localized peace talks with communist rebels, while it is still open for a formal negotiation with the National Democratic Front (NDF), Malacanang said on Thursday.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said during the command conference, which President Rodrigo Duterte presided over on Wednesday night, there was a decision to continue with the peace talks with the NDF, the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army.
However, Roque said the formal negotiations would push through if conditions set by Duterte are met.
These include the peace talks be held in the Philippines; no collection of revolutionary tax; and that while there are talks, the rebels would remain or encamp in one place and the government would provide their needs.
"So if the CPP-NPA will agree to these (conditions), the peace talks can continue," Roque said.
But he said the other alternative that the government could do is to hold localized peace talks.
The spokesman said the Cabinet cluster on security will meet on July 12 to finalize the guidelines for the localized peace talks.
He said the only directive of the President once this mode pushes through is not to agree on the aspect of governance.
"And that the local government units should await the guidelines to be approved by the Cabinet cluster on security," he said.
On the statement of CPP founder Jose Maria Sison that localized peace talks would not succeed, Roque said the leftist leader was already irrelevant.
"I know some of you get frustrated because you always want me to comment everytime Joma Sison says anything. I’m not under compulsion to comment on anything Joma says. Now that peace talks are not being held, he’s completely irrelevant as far as I’m concerned," he said.
"So Joma Sison can say anything he wants, that’s his opinion; he’s even living ten thousand miles away. So I don’t see how he can even be relevant. But I know that local government officials have been conducting localized peace talks resulting in surrenders, that’s why bulk of the surrenderees that we have particularly in the Davao Region, is a result of negotiations between the fighters themselves and the local government units," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS