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Duterte ‘resets’ peace talks with communists

By Genalyn D. Kabiling

The government has decided to defer the planned resumption of peace talks with the communist rebel group until public consultations on the initiative are conducted.

According to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, President Duterte wanted to “reset” the peace talks with the communists and ordered the government peace panel to engage the public and obtain their support and understanding first.

The postponement of the revival of the peace negotiations was reached during the President’s meeting with top security and peace officials in Malacañang last Wednesday.

Duterte, who has given a 60-day window for the two sides to hammer out a peace deal, earlier said he was eyeing the resumption of the talks in July. The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front, on the other hand, reportedly agreed to return to the negotiating table later this month.

“In our common effort to make sure that we achieve a conducive and enabling environment for peace, President Rodrigo Duterte instructed us last (Wednesday) night to engage our bigger ‘peace table’ – the general public as well as other sectors in government as we work to negotiate peace with the communist rebels,” Dureza said during a Palace press briefing.

“Consequently, the initial timeline that our backchannel team had worked on with their counterparts (CPP/NPA/NDF) ‘across the table’ had to be necessarily re-adjusted,” he said.

“In other words, the scheduled supposed resumption of talks that have been earlier subject to discussions by our backchannel will not happen as originally set and announced in the media,” he said.

Dureza did not give any new date on the possible resumption of the peace talks.

He explained that the President did not want to rush the peace talks to avoid the “same pitfalls of the past.” He said they wanted to ensure any peace agreement with the communist would be “implementable.”

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