MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is not yet ready to resume peace talks with communists, said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza on Thursday, June 14.
"The decision for the moment, huwag na muna ituloy ang talks (let's not resume talks yet)," he said during a Malacañang press briefing.
President Rodrigo Duterte made the call during the joint military and police command conference on Thursday night.
Dureza said the Chief Executive wants the public "consulted" first on the proposals of the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
"To achieve a conducive environment for peace, President Rodrigo Duterte instructed us to engage our bigger peace table, the general public, as well as other sectors in government," said Dureza.
Negotiating teams engaged in back-channel talks had apparently been gunning for certain dates for the 5th round of peace talks. This schedule will now be pushed back due to Duterte's directive.
"Consequently, the initial timeline that our back-channel team had worked on with their counterparts CPP-NDF across the table had to be necessarily adjusted," said Dureza.
Duterte had previously floated a July date for peace talks to restart.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has already informed the NDF of the development while Dureza has relayed matters to the Norwegian government, the 3rd party facilitating the talks.
AFP, PNP concern
Asked what will convince the administration that it's time to formally resume peace talks, Dureza said it would be an "enabling environment" or "something that will convince the government that things will really push through."
He said there were "many factors" considered by Duterte in arriving at the decision but did not want to be more specific.
One concern that was part of the "inputs" considered was that of the military and police – that the New People's Army would use the peace talks to regroup.
This worry was voiced by security officials during the command conference.
There was also a sense, he said, that "we really need to engage the public and get their support."
Earlier on Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte wants the peace process back on track. – Rappler.com
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 email@example.com.