From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 18): PRRD wants peace talks with Reds held in PH
Instead of spending money to hold peace talks with communist rebels in Norway, the Philippine government can save by holding them inside the country, Malacañang said Monday.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said it was President Rodrigo R. Duterte himself who emphasized that peace talks should be done in the country since it is “a talk between Filipinos.”
“The President has emphasized that this is a talk between Filipinos, (so this) should be held in the Philippines. Hindi naman po kinakailangan pa na mangibang bayan para makipag-usap ng kapayapaan lamang (We don’t need to travel abroad to hold peace talks),” Roque said in a Palace briefing.
Roque said the funds for peace talks in Norway could be “better” spent in providing for the needs of members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
“Gamitin na lang natin iyong perang iyon para sustentuhan iyong mga lumalabang NPA habang nagkakaroon tayo ng ongoing peace talks (Let’s use the money to sustain the NPA fighters while peace talks are ongoing),” he added.
No third-party facilitator
He added that there would no longer be a need for a third party facilitator but is willing to welcome parties who want to help.
“Wala na po siguro, nandito na naman tayo sa Pilipinas (Perhaps there won’t be a third-party facilitator anymore, we’re in the Philippines after all),” Roque said.
“Any party who wants to help and who’s been involved in the process can help,” he added.
Roque, meanwhile, assured the public that Duterte has always given “top priority” to peace talks with both the Muslim insurgents and the populists’ insurgents and has not given up on the process despite its delay.
He stressed that any peace agreement must be inclusive and must pass the test of both legal and political scrutiny.
“The delay thus in the talks with the CPP-NPA is indispensable if we have -- if we are to have an agreement that will pass these tests -- it would help if Mr. Joma Sison would allow the government to be the one to brief the nation on any future developments,” Roque said.
Sought for a comment on the statement of CPP founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison that Duterte insisting on the venue would mean “the end” of their negotiations, Roque said that he was “sad” to hear it.
“That would be sad but I’m sure that statement will not be conclusive kung ano man ang magiging outcome ng usapin (to whatever will be the outcome of these negotiations),” Roque said.
Roque also expressed hope that Sison would not worry about the venue since the government has shown sincerity in holding peace negotiations.
According to Roque, Duterte is “dead serious” about holding peace talks, noting that he has already asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file the necessary motions in Court to set free individuals who will be participating in the talks.
He said that this move is “the best evidence of good faith on the part of the government.”
Last week, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza announced the postponement of the resumption of peace talks between the government and the CPP to allow the public to engage more in the peace process.
Dureza said Duterte made the instruction to engage the general public, as well as other stakeholders, “in our common effort to make sure that we achieve a conducive and enabling environment for peace”.
Duterte earlier said talks with the Reds may resume in July while Sison said resumption might happen between June 28 and 30 in Oslo, Norway.