PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has opened anew the possibility of reviving peace talks with communist rebels, after a meeting with Norway’s special envoy to the peace process.
“The Norwegian officials came here to explore the possibility of talking [with the Reds]again. I have to consult my military people. Why? Because they will die, not me,” Duterte said during the 10th biennial convention and 20th founding anniversary celebration of the Chinese-Filipino Business Club Inc. on Monday night.
In the meeting last week, Norwegian envoy Idun Tvedt was said to have reiterated the commitment of the Norwegian government to assist the Philippines in peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA), and negotiating arm the National Democratic Front (NDF).
“I will talk to the military. If [they]would agree, I might [reconsider],” Duterte added.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. however said the possibility of reviving the peace talks was unclear especially after six members of the police Special Action Force were wounded in an ambush by the NPA in Antipolo City on Sunday morning.
Roque said the peace talks would be worthless if the Reds were not interested in real peace.
“As of now, [the resumption of peace talks]is unclear. They are pushing for peace talks but they always use force,” Roque said.
Roque said Duterte would listen to the military.
“If the military recommends the continuation [of the peace talks], I think that the recommendation will be considered [by Duterte]. But as of now, a recommendation has yet to surface,” Roque said.
Duterte terminated the peace talks between the government and the communist rebels, under Proclamation 360 issued on November 23.
Duterte also signed Proclamation 374 declaring the NPA and CPP as terrorist groups.
CPP founder Jose Maria Sison had warned that the NPA could kill one soldier a day until the government reopened the peace talks.
Duterte retorted by saying he could order government forces to kill five NPA rebels for every soldier killed.
Duterte also said that he would train indigenous peoples in Mindanao to be militiamen and give them a bounty of P20,000 for each NPA rebel killed.