PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has not entirely shut the door on the peace process with communist rebels but wanted them to show sincerity in pursuing talks with the government, his spokesman said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters, Secretary Harry Roque reiterated that the government would only continue talking with the communist rebels if they would stop from staging attacks.
“The President has not completely ruled out resumption of peace talks. What he wants to see is sincerity on the part of the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army),” Roque said during a press conference.
“And he has said it over and over again. He wants all fightings to stop during his administration,” he added.
Roque issued the statement after the CPP expressed opposition to “local peace negotiations” initiated by military and local officials with individual members or subgroups.
The President encouraged his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, to pursue her peace initiatives in their hometown but also reiterated his call to the communist rebels to surrender and promised them that jobs would be waiting for them.
The CPP said, however, that localized peace talks would only be a waste of time.
“Duterte’s local peace talks will surely fail in its aim of dividing the revolutionary forces waging a nationwide people’s war. The Duterte regime is wasting time and the people’s money in setting-up these useless local peace committees which will go nowhere and achieve nothing,” the CPP said in a statement issued on Thursday, November 2.
“These are mere rehashes of worn-out psywar surrender programs such as the ‘balik-baril program’ and the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) riding on the popular clamor for peace talks,” the CPP added.
The previous Aquino administration also pushed for localized peace talks after negotiations with communist rebels bogged down. It was also rejected by the CPP.
Duterte has been flip-flopping on the idea of reviving the peace negotiations, questioning the sincerity of the communists in dealing with the government.
The fifth round of talks scheduled from May 27 to June 1 were cancelled by the government after the CPP ordered the NPA to step up offensives against government forces implementing martial law in Mindanao.
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 to quell the Maute terrorist group that attacked Marawi City.
In early October, Duterte said he would leave it up to the next Philippine leader to pursue talks with the communists.
Duterte’s remarks prompted government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello 3rd to say that the talks were on “suspension mode.”
The government has yet to announce that it has sent a formal letter of termination to the Royal Norwegian Government, third party facilitator of the peace talks.