Duterte not aban­don­ing talks with Reds – Bello

Sun.Star Davao - - TOP STORIES -

MANILA - Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte is not clos­ing his doors for the pos­si­ble re­sump­tion of peace ne­go­ti­a­tions with the National Demo­cratic Front (NDF), La­bor Sec­re­tary Sil­vestre Bello III said on Thursday.

Bello, the gov­ern­ment's chief peace ne­go­tia­tor with com­mu­nist rebels, was con­fi­dent that the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive does not "aban­don" his pledge to the Filipino peo­ple to bring "last­ing peace for our coun­try" by com­ing up with a suc­cess­ful deal with the com­mu­nists.

"When the Pres­i­dent came in as our pres­i­dent, he made a very clear state­ment that his legacy to our coun­try and our coun­try­men is a last­ing peace for our coun­try. So I don’t think that the Pres­i­dent has aban­doned that legacy," he told Palace re­porters.

Bello is­sued the re­mark even after Duterte said on Oc­to­ber 5 that the re­vival of talks be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the com­mu­nist party was "not good for the coun­try."

In a speech he de­liv­ered be­fore the sol­diers in Taguig City, the Pres­i­dent said he was not in­clined to con­tinue the di­a­logue with the com­mu­nist rebels as the New Peo­ple's Army (NPA), the group's armed wing, does not stop fight­ing the state forces.

"We are fight­ing the New Peo­ple's Army. At this stage, I am not ready to talk to them be­cause it is not good for the coun­try," Duterte said dur­ing the Philip­pine Army's 58th change of com­mand rites.

The gov­ern­ment was ini­tially slated to re­sume the fifth round of talks with the com­mu­nist lead­ers on May 27 to June 1 but it sus­pended the ne­go­ti­a­tions fol­low­ing the "se­ri­ous chal­lenges" both par­ties were fac­ing.

In July, Bello an­nounced that the can­celed peace ne­go­ti­a­tions were about to push through in the third week of Au­gust but Pres­i­dent di­rected the gov­ern­ment panel not to re­sume talks be­cause of the com­mu­nists' ap­par­ent lack of sin­cer­ity in ne­go­ti­at­ing with his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Duterte also said on his sec­ond State of the Na­tion Ad­dress that the com­mu­nist group was the gov­ern­ment's next tar­get when the cri­sis in war-torn Marawi City ends.

De­spite the can­cel­la­tion of talks, Duterte is yet to is­sue a for­mal no­tice of ter­mi­na­tion of peace talks with the com­mu­nist rebels.SunS­tar Philip­pines

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