Padilla quits as NDF chief negotiator

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After giving up hope on the resumption of peace talks with communist rebels, the government’s chief negotiator, Alexander Padilla, has resigned to focus on his new job as head of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Padilla will replace Health Secretary Enrique Ona, who concurrently sits as Philhealth as president.

In a radio interview, Padilla, who also served as an undersecretary at the Department of Health, confirmed that he has notified the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) about his decision to quit.

Reports revealed that the Aquino administration had abandoned negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF) because of the “impossible conditions” set by the group.

But Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles maintained that the government remains open to the resumption of peace talks.

“Chair Alex Padilla’s appointment to PhilHealth does not come as a surprise,” she said.

“We have agreed that he will stay on to ensure a smooth transition. The rest of the panel remain in place and the work continues to proceed.”

Malacañang agreed with Deles, saying that the Aquino administration had always been open to resume formal negotiations.

Deputy Presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said the government is willing to sit down with communist rebels again but they should show sincerity.

“There are several incidents that would indicate a sincerity problem when it comes to the talks, at least on that side. We’re still open to that and we’ve always manifested our intent to keep talking to them but, even from the beginning, we’ve said that there should be no preconditions; we all come to the table with good intentions and with good faith,” Valte said

“Down the line, we have seen incidents that would cast doubt on those intentions, at least coming from the other side. But at this point, as Alex Padilla said, the government is still open to talking to them,” Valte added.

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