PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has assured the National Democratic Front (NDF) that its detained consultants will be released to allow them to attend the formal resumption of peace talks in Oslo, Norway next week.
This after the leaders of the NDF, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) that has been waging a Maoist rebellion for decades, met with Duterte in Malacañang on Monday to discuss the upcoming talks.
In a statement released by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process on Tuesday, chief negotiator Silvestre Bello 3rd said Duterte had ordered the Bureau of Immigration and the Department of Foreign Affairs to assist the NDF consultants who will participate in the talks.
“The President assured NDF lawyers present during the meeting in Malacañang yesterday (August 15) that the NDF consultants will fly to Oslo,” Bello said.
In his speech during an oath-taking ceremony for new presidential appointees in Malacañang on Monday, Duterte said he told the NDF that it could help “shape a government without necessarily going into the complicated task of coalition.”
“And I said that maybe, what would come out of these talks in Oslo, is where I would insist that I retain the control of the military and the police, and they can have the mundane matters of government. As a matter of fact, they are there,” the President said, referring to activists he had appointed to various government posts.
Formal talks are scheduled to take place from August 20 to 27 in Oslo, Norway.
To support the resumption of the negotiations, Duterte declared a ceasefire with communist rebels in his first State of the Nation Address last July 25.
The President, however, revoked the truce five days later because of the failure of the communists to declare their own ceasefire.
The Duterte administration has so far secured the release of communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, and Ariel Arbitrario and Porferio Tuna.
The NDF is still seeking the release of Tirso Alcantara, Renato Baleros Sr., Kennedy Bangibang, Alexander Birondo, Winona Birondo, Ma. Concepcion Araneta Bocala, Pedro Codaste, Edgardo Friginal, Renante Gamara, Edie Genelsa, Alan Jazmines, Ernesto Lorenzo, Loida Magpatoc, Alfredo Mapano, Ruben Saluta and Adelberto Silva.
In a statement, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said Duterte was willing to “walk the extra mile for peace.”
Dureza, who went to Malaysia last Saturday for separate peace negotiations with Muslim rebels, will lead the government’s panel in Oslo.
The Oslo talks are expected to tackle issues on socioeconomic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, security and immunity guarantees, cessation of hostilities and disposition of forces.