Government renews commitment to talk peace with communists

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The government is not closing its doors on peace negotiations with communist rebels, a Malacanang spokesman said Thursday.
“Our position has always been we would like to resolve all these internal conflicts in a peaceful manner,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda.

The Aquino administration is still open to talking with the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), Lacierda said.
“We have advocated our position several times. It is up to CPP-NPA-NDF to come to the table and break bread with us,” Lacierda he said.

The government had confirmed that Alex Padilla, its chief negotiator with the communist side, has resigned after several months of lull in the peace talks.
Padilla had said the negotiations had collapsed and ending the decades-long insurgency by 2016 was an impossible mission.
The talks were snagged by disagreements on the release of political prisoners, whom the rebels said were vital participants in the peace discussions.
Lacierda said the government is willing to give additional security to the vice mayor of Bacolod City who has been in the communists’ hit list.
“We will ask DILG [Department of Interior and Local Government] but, certainly, if warranted we will provide so,” he said.
The NPA leadership has reportedly ordered its forces to “arrest” a town vice mayor in Bacolod City.
CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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