THE chief government peace negotiator said that President Rodrigo Duterte’s issuance of a proclamation declaring the communist rebels as “terrorists” would be the “end of everything” for the peace talks.
“If the issuance [of the proclamation]happens then it will be the end of everything [in terms of the peace talks]because we cannot negotiate with terrorists,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd Bello said in Filipino today, Thursday, in an interview at the House of Representatives.
Bello was at the House to follow-through on the inclusion of P1.1 billion into the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) budget that would be used for the repatriation and re-intregration of 240,000 documented Filipino workers in Qatar, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia.
On November 18, Duterte threatened to proclaim the communist rebels “terrorists” and reiterated that he did no longer wanted to pursue peace talks with them.
“They [are]aware of it because Presidential Proclamation No. 360 is very clear that the President has already terminated the talks. Probably, I may even go to the motion, either I or [Presidential adviser on peace process Jesus] Dureza may furnish the NDF-CPP-NPA panel a copy of the Presidential proclamation just to comply with the notice of 30 days,” Bello said.
CPP is the Communist Party of the Philippines. The NDF is the National Democratic Front, political wing of the CPP; the NPA is the New People’s Army, the communists’ armed wing.
Bello said, however, that the door was still open for peace talks despite the President’s tough talk.
“The environment is not there, we will wait for an enabling environment, a conducive environment for the conduct of the peace talks negotiation,” Bello said.
“I do not want to guess on the President’s [thinking]but his decision is very clear — he wants to terminate [the peace talks for now]and he will wait for the proper venue,” Bello said.
Bello also said that people should not take literally the President’s statement authorizing military personnel to shoot armed NPA members. RALPH EDWIN U. VILLANUEVA