Revival of peace talks to be announced
Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star)
December 13, 2019 – 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte is set to make the announcement on the formal resumption of peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said yesterday.
“He will do the announcement, I don’t want to preempt him,” Bello said in response to queries on when and where the peace negotiations would be held.
Bello said he briefed Duterte late Wednesday regarding the fruitful results of his recent meeting with leaders of the CPP and the National Democratic Front (NDF).
Bello described the President’s reaction to his report as “OK.”
In a separate radio interview, Bello said CPP founder Jose Maria Sison and Duterte have agreed to a “face to face” meeting.
However, they have yet to agree on the venue and several “goodwill measures,” including the release of detained communist consultants who are members of the negotiating panel.
Bello said the CPP has expressed willingness to declare a unilateral ceasefire as a part of the goodwill measures this Christmas.
“The unilateral ceasefire may take effect Dec. 20 or 21 until the end of December,” Bello said.
Depending on the President’s decision, Bello said the peace talks might resume by second or third week of January.
The communists have been waging an insurgency since 1968 that the military says has claimed 30,000 lives.
Duterte restarted peace talks that had been on and off for 30 years.
The peace talks deteriorated in 2017 due to continuing rebel attacks on government troops. In November, Duterte signed a proclamation declaring the termination of the peace negotiations.
A resumption of the peace talks was scheduled in June last year but it was canceled as the government sought to review all agreements the communists had signed.
Duterte also created a task force to go after the New People’s Army and sought the declaration of the NPA as a terrorist group.
Meanwhile, government forces killed a suspected NPA rebel and captured another in Misamis Oriental and Agusan del Sur, respectively.
Lt. Col Ezra Balagtey, spokesman of the Davao City-based Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), said troops from the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade caught up with about 15 NPA rebels in a remote village in Lagonglong town on Monday, triggering a 30-minute firefight.
Balagtey said one of the NPA rebels was killed.
In Agusan del Sur, troops from the Army’s 26th Infantry Battalion also clashed with an undetermined number of communist insurgents at Barangay San Pedro, San Luis town.
Balagtey said the fighting resulted in the capture of a suspected NPA rebel identified as Reneboy Rocero, who was abandoned by his fleeing comrades. – With Jaime Laude, John Unson, Gilbert Bayoran