MANILA, Philippines – Chief presidential peace adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza on Monday, February 20, said the government will consider resuming talks with communist rebels once "compelling reasons are present."
The statement comes a day after the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) urged the President to send ceasefire panels to The Netherlands to discuss a joint ceasefire deal. (READ: CPP to Duterte: Let's discuss joint ceasefire deal)
"We welcome and respect the positive position coming from the leadership of the CPP/NPA/NDF. On the part of the Philippine government, we share the same commitment to work for just and lasting peace in the land. When 'compelling reasons,' as President Duterte earlier announced, are present, then we in government shall take the next necessary steps," reads the complete text of Dureza's short statement on Monday.
Duterte did not say what these compelling reasons could be. Some hoped that CPP's statement on Sunday – expressing commitment to reinstate the ceasefire through a bilateral ceasefire agreement and proposal to faciliate the release of 6 prisoners of war – could prompt the resumption of talks.
Dureza welcomed the CPP statement but did not address the group's call to proceed with a previously arranged February 22 side meeting in The Netherlands to discuss the joint ceasefire deal that will impose common rules for the military and the New People's Army.
The statements of the CPP and Dureza were issued as President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to meet leftist Cabinet members Monday night to discuss the peace talks.
Government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III said the meeting is an indication that the peace process is still alive. Bello himself said he has not met with the President to discuss the talks. – Rappler.com