Philippines holds 'informal' backchannel talks with communists

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Philippines has resumed negotiating with communists in "informal" backchannel talks now taking place outside the country, according to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza. 

"Our team is now in Europe and we are informed that there are initial positive results so far," Dureza said in a statement Tuesday, May 8.

Dureza revealed in the same statement that both he and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III briefed President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night, May 7, on the peace process with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF), including the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA).

Both had told Durerte that "efforts to resume peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF are underway, with informal backchannel talks now taking place in Europe."

Dureza did not disclose who was representing the government. But a team, according to Bello, "will return home soon to personally brief the President of the outcomes."

"We are doing our best to meet the deadline set by the President about the resumption of talks within 60 days," Bello said.

The latest effort to discuss peace with communists was called a "last chance" – at least under the Duterte administration, which ends by 2022.

Duterte had said that the government will return to the negotiating table only when both parties agree to a bilateral ceasefire. –