Malacañang on Monday reiterated that the government will not consider preconditions for resumption of peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
“It is premature to talk about prisoner releases without a full appreciation of the context and parameters of the talks that are now being proposed. It is difficult to start with preconditions,” its spokesman Edwin Lacierda, quoting Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles, said.
“What is more important to consider is where the talks will go,” he added.
Lacierda’s statement came after a recent meeting between Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison in The Netherlands.
Belmonte, who was in The Hague as part of a high-profile delegation attending hearings of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on Manila’s case against China, met in Amsterdam with Sison and Luis Jalandoni, chief negotiator of the NDF.
Sison has been in exile in Utrecht since 1986.
Belmonte said the meeting with Sison and Jalandoni was “more like a confidence-building measure.”
Lacierda said the government’s negotiating panel is yet to talk with Belmonte on what he and other lawmakers discussed with CPP leaders.
“We look forward to meeting with Speaker Belmonte when he returns to Manila to discuss what transpired in their dinner meeting with Professor Sison and Mr. Jalandoni,” the Malacanang spokesman added.
The government and the NDF should set a “time-bound and doable agenda” for the negotiations, Lacierda said.
Formal peace talks between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDF were terminated two years ago, with the government saying the negotiations were “going nowhere” after a 22-month impasse.