Govt in back channel talks with ‘Reds’


President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday admitted that the government has initiated back channel talks with the communist rebels to revive the peace negotiations that collapsed last month.

Duterte however refused to give details so as not to “spoil” the latest developments.

“I must admit nasa back channeling [there’s a back channeling],” the President told reporters when asked for an update on the possible revival of peace talks.

Last month, the President withdrew a unilateral ceasefire declaration and scrapped peace talks with communist rebels after the Communist Party of the Philippines terminated its unilateral ceasefire.

Duterte also ordered the arrest of National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants temporarily freed for the peace talks in Oslo, Norway and Rome, Italy.

The President, in a speech in Cagayan de Oro City on Friday, said he was willing to talk anew with the rebels if they showed sincerity.

“I’m ready to talk and I’m ready to stop this war. I would prefer for us to not have war, but we need to talk from the heart. I get really hurt if someone from the other side dies. Those are Filipinos,” Duterte said.

The President stressed that the communists should agree to a bilateral ceasefire, stop the collection of the so-called revolutionary tax, and release all captured government men.

“I just want peace. I’m ready as long as we communicate well. I’m ready to resume the ceasefire again, but this time I want it to be sincere,” he said. CATHERINE S. VALENTE



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