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Duterte floats July resumption of peace talks with communists

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has hinted at the possibility of resuming peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF) in July.

"I will be talking to the rebels. I'm talking to [Jose Maria] Sison. We will start the talks maybe mid – mga (around) July," he said in a mix of Bisaya and English during a gathering of barangay officials in Lapu-Lapu City on Thusday, June 7.

He was referring to Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison who he recently invited to return home to the Philippines.

Asked about Duterte's remarks, Chief Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza told Rappler on Friday, June 8, that he was still awaiting specific orders from the President.

"Let's wait for the guidance from the President on Monday [during the] Cabinet meeting," Dureza said in a message.

In November 2017, Duterte formally ended talks with the NDF, the political arm of the CPP, through Proclamation No 360. The government has also filed a petition before a Manila court, seeking to officially tag hundreds of alleged NPA members – including Sison and UN Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz – as terrorists under the Human Security Act.

The move was apparently prompted by his anger over an NPA ambush in Bukidnon that led to the death of a 4-month-old baby.

But 4 months after, in March, the President appeared to cool down as he declared he "may reconsider" peace talks if the CPP declares a ceasefire.

In April, Duterte again said he was open to resuming peace talks with the additional condition that the NPA stop burning property.

While the President himself has warmed up to the idea of returning to the negotiation table, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana reiterated his opposition to it, insisting the communists were making "unreasonable demands." – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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