Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiator Fidel Agcaoili have agreed on a framework on how to resume the peace talks, which has been stalled due to disagreements over jailed rebels with criminal cases.
Duterte said the resumption of the negotiations between the government and the communists was discussed during his three-hour meeting with Agcaoili Tuesday night at the Hotel Elena here.
“We agreed on a framework on how to proceed with the peace talks,” Duterte said in a midnight press conference here.
"Maybe, in God's good time, I told Fidel that there would be a time when we’ll have to stop talking about being left or being right," he added.
Duterte also plans to invite Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. “Joma” Sison to return to the country once he assumes office.
“(According to) the news, Joma is coming home. I told him I cannot give you the invitation now because I am not the president. I cannot guarantee anything about the safety pass," Duterte said.
"Maybe you can wait until the 30th of June, I will, by that time, I said, I am already the president. I can give you the letter to come over," he added.
READ: Duterte meets with NDFP
Duterte said it possible that Sison, who has been in self-exile in the Netherlands since 1987, would be home by July.
Talks between the government and the NDFP, the panel that represents the communist rebels in the peace negotiations, was stalled after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on jailed rebel leaders.
NDFP negotiators said the government has the obligation to release the rebels who are working as peace consultants as a signatory to the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). The 1995 agreement prohibits the arrest and detention of peace consultants.
Government negotiators, however, refused to yield to the demand, claiming that the identity of those who are supposed to be covered by the JASIG cannot be verified.
Duterte said in an earlier interview that the granting of a general amnesty to communist rebels would hinge on the results of the peace negotiations. He said he is ready to free political prisoners even before the end of the talks if both sides “deal in good faith.”
Meanwhile, Duterte revealed that Agcaoili had submitted to him a list containing the names of the NDFP’s nominees to the Cabinet.
“The Left gave me a very impressive list of people who have the talent," he said.
“I’m inclined to give in if we can talk smoothly and Jose Maria Sison comes home in July.”
Duterte, however, said he is not sure if the nominees are willing to perform the tasks of Cabinet officials.
“The resumes are there. You have to be careful in naming names,” he said.
Duterte could not recall the number of nominees submitted by the NDFP but estimated it to be “less than 10.” He said about four of the nominees are women.
Earlier, Duterte said he is willing to give four Cabinet posts to people identified with the left. He said progressives may handle the labor, agrarian reform, environment, and social welfare departments.
The incoming president also clarified that he would not appoint communist hardliners in his Cabinet.
“If you are a cadre in the mountains, I will not accept you. You will kill members of the military. I have to balance it, I have to give to the progressive, not to the communist party hardcore,” Duterte said in an earlier press conference.