• Peace talks to stop slaughter of Filipinos – Duterte

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    President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday justified the resumption of stalled peace negotiations between the government and the communist rebels, saying he wanted to stop “cannibalism.”

    Duterte said he ordered the government peace panel to start talks with the National Democratic Front despite the absence of “compelling” reasons.

    “I just gave my orders to start talking. There is no concrete proposal, there’s not even a list of what should be taken up,” the President told said in a news conference.

    “As a Filipino, I’m still interested in preventing the slaughter of a Filipino by a Filipino,” he added.

    “Communism is cannibalism. You devour your fellow Filipino with your ideology,” he said.

    Duterte’s statement came after Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Jesus Dureza announced that the peace dialogue will proceed on the first week of April.

    Dureza said the resumption of peace talks was the result of the successful back-channel talks in Utrecht, the Netherlands held last March 10 and 11.

    He said the government’s peace negotiators had agreed to sign bilateral ceasefire agreement.

    The President withdrew a unilateral ceasefire declaration and scrapped the peace talks last month dismayed by rebel attacks and demands for the release of all detained rebels.

    CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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