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Localized peace talks with Reds may be pursued

Despite the earlier declaration of Communist Party of the Philippines founder Joma Sison, the Duterte administration remains open to a possible resumption of the peace talks with the communist group.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement almost a week after Sison said that they would no longer talk of peace with the government under the leadership of President Duterte and would instead support efforts to oust him.

In a Facebook post, Roque said that the government is willing to hold peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front as long as they adhere to the conditions earlier laid down by Duterte.

“The door for peace talks remains open provided that PRRD’s conditions are met: It will be held in the country, no collection of revolutionary tax, no hostilities, NPA fighters to remain encamped, and no coalition government,” Roque said Wednesday night.

He added that localized peace talks may be pursued by local government units as provided that they do not concede any aspect of governance.

The Palace official also said that localized peace talks should be pursuant to guidelines to be agreed upon by the Cabinet cluster on security.

Roque was posting live social media updates from the ongoing joint command conference with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

In his Palace press briefing yesterday, Roque said that Duterte still has not changed his mind about pursuing peace in the country.

“So patuloy pa rin ang paghangad ng kapayapaan ng ating Presidente, pero hindi naman po pwede na sila pa ang magdidikta kung paano tayo makakarating sa kapayapaan,” he said.

Roque also said that during the joint command conference, they were briefed on the different agreements that the government has entered into with the communist group. He said that even after the briefing, Duterte stood by his decision to have the peace negotiations in the country. (Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos)