Thursday, December 22, 2016

Power sharing with Reds ruled out

From The Standard (Dec 21): Power sharing with Reds ruled out

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte told exiled Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison that his demand for power sharing was impossible, and said a ceasefire agreement was needed before any political prisoners are released.

Speaking before soldiers and policemen at Camp Aguinaldo on Tuesday, Duterte reiterated that a coalition government that the communist rebels want will not prosper.

“It will never happpen. I said that I cannot share power with him. He knows that,” Duterte said, referring to his phone call with Sison early Tuesday at about 2 a.m. Manila time.
President Rodrigo Duterte
Duterte said he also told Sison, his former professor at the Lyceum of the Philippines University, that there would be no release of political prisoners unless they have a ceasefire agreement.

“Some of them are sick and maybe I might consider [releasing them on] humanitarian grounds,” he added.

Citing his “friendly and productive phone conversation” with Duterte on advancing the government and the NDF’s peace negotiations, Sison said that the ceasefire currently in effect will continue throughout the holidays.

The communist leader also said that the bilateral ceasefire agreement between the two groups can be signed next year.

In the same speech, Duterte said that he reiterated his commitment to ending contractualization.

“He kept on complaining about endo. But the one who first raised the howl about endo is me,” Duterte said, referring to the practice of letting go of contractual workers before they become regular employees.

The government peace panel is set to leave for Rome for the third round of talks with the NDF from January 18 to 25.

Topping the agenda in the Rome round of talks are the social and economic reforms that the rebels are putting across the negotiating table.

Negotiators from both sides are also expected to tackle and agree on the mechanics and guidelines for a bilateral ceasefire agreement and political and constitutional reforms.

Duterte on Wednesday announced the government’s new counter-insurgency program to replace Oplan Bayanihan, which the communists have denounced.

The new program, he said, would be in tune with ongoing peace talks with the communist rebels.
Duterte also called for the cessation of hostilities between the government and the communist rebels during the Christmas and New Year season.

At the same time, he vowed that “nothing will be conceded to the enemies of the state,” referring to the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute group.

“We will conduct focused military operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group and the other local and foreign terrorist groups and continue to strive to restore civil order in the conflict-ridden areas,” he said.

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