Manila Bulletin

Duterte sets timeline for peace talks


Two months or nothing. This is the timeline set by President Duterte for government and the Communist Party of the Philippine­s-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA)peace panels to seal a peace agreement. Duterte made the statement in a speech at a dinner concert in Pasay City Thursday night.

"Ako na. Ako na ang magdeliver (Let me. Let me deliver). But I’ll have a timeline of something two months, 60 days. Good or break tayo (let us part ways)," he said.

"Ako na ang mag gastos. Ako na ang magdala ng bigas. Sison… Well, something a comfortabl­e – ako na, dito na sa hotel (Let me

shoulder the expenses, I will provide the food. Sison, well, something comfortabl­e, we'll bring him to a hotel)," he added.

Duterte said he will allow all consultant­s of the NDF to participat­e in the peace negotiatio­ns like before but they would be rearrested if the talks fail.

"You can all go out. All of you. Nothing will happen. But if we fail, I’ll start collecting. Sigurado ‘yan (That's for sure)," he said.

President Duterte terminated the peace talks with the Reds in November last year, citing ceasefire violations and insincerit­y in dealing with government.

The mercurial Duterte vowed never to revive the peace talks and moved to declare the communists as terrorists.

However, during the Cabinet meeting Wednesday, Duterte softened his stand and directed Presidenti­al Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza to work on the resumption of the peace talks but laid down conditions for the talks – no coalition government, no collection of taxes and for rebel fighters to confine themselves inside their camps to prevent misencount­ers.

Presidenti­al spokesman Harry Roque said the conditions laid out by the President are non-negotiable.

"For the communist, no coalition government. Why? Because of the sovereign will of the people. The sovereign will is in the hands of the Republic of the Philippine­s – the people. And it could be exercised by just a few because we cannot exercise altogether. We give it to what? To whom? To the leaders. How? Elected," he stressed.

"You from the outside coming in from the cold cannot share that power because I cannot give it to you because I do not own it. I cannot concede even a tiniest part of that sovereign power because I am not allowed to do it," he said.

The Reds, however are willing to return to the negotiatio­n table if government removes the terrorist tag against the rebels.

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