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Duterte wants to talk with Reds anew

MANILA, Philippines — After several hitches in the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), President Duterte bared last night that he is ready to talk with the insurgents again.

But the Chief Executive did not discuss the new terms that might prompt the resumption of the peace negotiations months after he ended the talks due to the continuing attacks of the CPP’s armed wing, New People’s Army, on members of the police and military in the countryside.

“I have to talk to the NPA,” was all Duterte said in his speech at the launch of the Cebu Pacific hub at the Laguindingan International Airport in Cagayan de Oro.

Duterte conceded that insurgency remains to be among the country’s problems, which he wants resolved during his term.

The Chief Executive expressed openness to resume the talks a day after he presided a meeting with officials of the Office of the Presidential Adviser of the Peace Process (OPPAP) and members, consultants and advisers of the government on the peace negotations with the communists at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang last Thursday.

Those present were Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, OPPAP assistant secretary Yesher Baccay, government peace panel chair and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, members Rene Sarmiento, Angela Trinidad, Antonio Arellano, advisers Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Baustita and technical committee members Brig. Gen. Raniel Ramido and Chief Supt. Francis Balagtas.

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In the same speech, Duterte stressed that radical terrorism remains to be a major issue for his administration as he noted the attempts of the Islamic State militants to expand their forces worldwide.

On Tuesday, he declared the liberation of Marawi City from terrorists following the killings of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Maute group leader Omar Maute by government forces last Monday.

Before he flew to Cagayan de Oro for the event, Duterte said he met with members of the 1st Infantry Batallion, the first responders during the Marawi siege last May, who arrived in Manila last night after almost five months of deployment.

Duterte also again cited illegal drugs as a major problem, which affects the country’s peace and order situation and economic development.

“All things equal, we are making good,” Duterte said before the group of Cebu Pacific officials led by its president and chief executive officer, Lance Gokongwei.

“We are doing good…(in) the stock markets. We are earning…,” he said while lauding the efforts of newly installed Customs commissioner and former police general Isidro Lapeña, also former Davao police chief when Duterte was still mayor of Davao, for the agency’s gains.

Despite the so-called bleeding hearts over his drug war, Duterte insisted his administration is on the right track in the campaign against illegal drugs.      

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