PH rebels to enter talks, name allies to Duterte Cabinet

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MANILA: Philippine communist rebels waging one of Asia’s longest insurgencies said Wednesday they would enter into peace talks with President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and ask him to add four of their political allies to his cabinet.

Duterte, who won a landslide victory in last week’s elections, had offered four cabinet posts to the insurgents and expressed willingness to free ailing guerrillas from prison to jumpstart peace negotiations that had stalled three years ago.

“We applaud the plans and programs announced by President-elect Duterte. We believe these would be key factors to achieving peace,” Luis Jalandoni, the rebels’ exiled chief peace negotiator told Manila radio station dzMM by telephone.

Netherlands-based Jalandoni said the rebels were expected to shortly exchange delegation visits with the Duterte camp “as part of the process for preparing the resumption of peace talks” as well as to iron out terms of cooperation.

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Duterte, the mayor of the southern city of Davao, on Monday welcomed plans by Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison to end nearly 30 years of Dutch exile to take part in the peace talks.

He said the return of Sison, his former political science professor at a Manila university, would be important in helping to end the rebellion, which has claimed an estimated 30,000 lives since the 1960s.

Both Jalandoni and Sison said no guerrillas would actually serve in Duterte’s cabinet prior to reaching a political settlement, when the insurgents hoped to lay down arms and join a coalition government.

“We have relayed to president-elect Duterte that (guerrilla) personnel themselves would not be taking up government posts, but we will recommend a list of qualified, competent and dedicated persons that could fill the posts,” Jalandoni said.

He said this would include nominees to the labor, social welfare, environment, and agrarian reform portfolios that were offered to them by Duterte, who takes office on June 30.

Jalandoni also told dzMM the rebels would consider a ceasefire and would ask the Duterte government to release 543 “political prisoners”, the insurgents’ term for imprisoned comrades.

Incumbent leader Benigno Aquino ended talks with the communists in 2013 over the rebels’ demand for the unconditional release of their detained comrades that his government was unwilling to grant. AFP

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1 Comment

  1. opinionated na pinoy on

    Jose Maria Sison and Jalandoni are biting more that they could chew and it seems that it will be a one sided deal. First, they were asking for the release of 543 “political prisoners” but these are insurgents, plain criminals, and cold blooded murderers. Secondly, the rebels will not disarm and Jalandoni termed this as a ceasefire. WTF?
    What this means is that their fighters will be immune from getting arrested even they commit crimes. So what is left to the government? How can the government protect its law abiding citizens? Are they going to let the NPA run around with weapons because they have immunity, and because it was spelled out in the peace talk agreement? Do the NPA have their own legitimate armed group? If Duterte will acknowledge the legitimacy of this group to exists in a peaceful society, then the AFP can overthrow the Duterte’s government and Philippines will be under military rule.

    Duterte needs to be very careful in negotiating with this group, and the first thing he needs to understand is that he is working for the Filipino people and he needs to protect them, as guaranteed by the constitution.