By Francis Wakefield
Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza assured the members of the House of Representatives that the government will remain open to the resumption of talks with the communists.
During a meeting with the House Committee on Peace, Unity and Reconciliation on Wednesday, Dureza said that the government peace panel “will continue to pursue the effort in the resumption of peace negotiation.”
“At this point, we still adhere to the statement that the door is still wide open and we will be considering moving towards that,” he said.
The peace adviser reiterated President Duterte’s wishes before talks can resume, namely: 1) there should be no coalition government; 2) there should be no collection of revolutionary tax; 3) the venue of the talks should local, and 4) there should be a ceasefire during which members of the New People’s Army would encamp in designated areas.
Dureza said that while the government’s current approach is pursuing localized peace talks, he also recognized that negotiations are vital in addressing the root causes of armed struggle.
“We know very well that we cannot finish the insurgency problem by military or police action at all. We have to address the social issues and it can be done if we engage the other side,” he said.
For his part, Government Peace Panel Chair and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III downplayed the exchange of words between Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison and President Duterte, saying these would not hinder the resumption of talks.
“The exchange of words is actually an exchange of words between good friends,” he said.
The House Committee tackled House Resolution 1803 urging President Duterte to resume the peace negotiations with the communists and House Bill 5669 which seeks to establish a Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Program for the Bangsamoro.
The committee adopted both the resolution and the bill.