MANILA – The Palace on Monday laid out several conditions for the resumption of peace talks with the communist rebels.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that before talks can resume, the communist rebels must first cease collecting so-called revolutionary taxes, end attacks on military personnel, stop burning property, and no longer carry out provocative and hostile actions towards government forces.
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) is urging the government to go back to the negotiating table following President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to scrap the talks.
Duterte’s decision to end peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was triggered by alleged New People’s Army (NPA) ambushes on soldiers as well as its decision to lift its unilateral ceasefire.
The president had said, only a “compelling” reason will force him to go back to the negotiating table with the communists.
Abella said, if the communists will heed the government’s conditions, the president’s mind may change.
“Considering the unprecedented goodwill the President has shown, these actions from NDF may provide compelling reason and could put at ease, to some extent, the apprehension of the military and the administration,” Abella said.
“After all, when guns are silent, we can better listen to each other. We need to take in good faith the President's vision for a peaceful, just and inclusively prosperous Philippines. He has already taken the first steps forward. We wait for NDF to respond.”
In a move seen as an attempt to mend ties with the government, the CPP recently ordered the release of three soldiers, a cop, and two militiamen.
The CPP also said it remains open to negotiations for a bilateral ceasefire if Duterte decides to send the government panel to the scheduled talks on February 22-27 in the Netherlands.
The withdrawal of the two sides’ unilateral ceasefires, and the resulting collapse of the peace talks, happened after the government and the communist rebels reached an impasse over the release of about 400 political prisoners.