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Bello: There’s still hope for peace with Reds

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Peace with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) is not yet a hopeless case, Chief Peace Negotiator Silvestre Bello III said Thursday night.

Secretary Silvestre Bello III (MANILA BULLETIN)

Secretary Silvestre Bello III (MANILA BULLETIN)

This came days after President Duterte officially terminated the peace talks with the Reds and moved to declare them as terrorists by signing Proclamations no. 360 and 374, respectively.

Bello, who is also Duterte’s Labor secretary, said there’s still a chance for the peace talks as long as the communist rebels show sincerity to the process.

“Sinong nagsabing walang pag-asa? May pag-asa habang nabubuhay si Presidente at ako (Who said there’s no more hope? There’s still hope as long as the President and I are alive),” Bello said.

“Ang aking ano is iyong enabling environment. In other words, dapat magpakita naman sila ng (For me, the enabling environment will play a big role. In other words, the need to show) sincerity in talking peace with government,” he added.

“Ang nangyayari kasi (What’s happening is), the President has been showing goodwill and has shown strong political will to pursue the talks to its radical conclusion, pero hindi sinuklian ng (but they do not reciprocate) the same level of sincerity,” he continued.

Bello is also not closing doors for a possible ceasefire with the Reds for the Yuletide season.

However, the chief peace negotiator admitted that he was saddened by the outcome of their efforts, especially those exerted by Duterte.

“I’m sad dahil alam ko naman na ang legacy na iniisip ng ating Pangulo na ibigay sa ating bansa (because I know that what the President wants to give our country) is a just, inclusive and lasting peace,” Bello said.

“So ito ay medyo setback lang sa (I think this is one of those setbacks on the) road to peace, one of the big humps in the road to peace. Pero I’m sure na iyong (But I’m sure that these) humps will some day disappear and we will go back to the road to peace,” he added.

Bello, meanwhile, said the public can expect an improvement in the situation as the government forces are prepared to address threats to peace and order.

“Gaganda ang ating peace and order situation dahil nakahanda ang ating kapulisan at ang ating (The peace and order situation will improve because the police and our) many uniformed [men are ready] to address the problem of peace and order,” he said.

Duterte officially cancelled the peace talks with the Reds earlier this week.

In a speech in Clark, Pampanga Thursday, Duterte said he tried to level with the Reds, even releasing political prisoners as an act of good faith, but added that their ambush which led to the death of a four-month-old baby in Bukidnon last month was the last straw.

The President also challenged CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison anew to come back to the Philippines and fight his own war instead of staying in the Netherlands.

“Sison, you have been directing a violent struggle while you are enjoying your sanctuary in the Netherlands. Bakit hindi ka umuwi dito? Tayo na lang ang magbakbakan (Why don’t you come home and let the two of us finish this off),” Duterte addressed his former professor.

Duterte earlier said that he will order the arrest of Sison as soon as he steps on Philippine soil. He said the CPP founder should forget of going back to the country if he does not want to land behind bars.


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