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Sec. Bello in Bacolod says: Government-NDF peace talks revival “very bright”

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines — The prospects of reviving the peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front is “very bright,” according to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, chairman of the government negotiating panel.

Bello, who was the keynote speaker of the Safety Organization of Negros Occidental summit in Bacolod City on Thursday, said they are now waiting for a final instruction from President Rodrigo Duterte for the resumption of the peace talks with the NDF.

The government's peace talks with the NDF have been suspended, following a series of armed offensives initiated by the communist rebels, including the ambush and killing of six policemen-who responded to a distress call in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental two months ago-and the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

The aborted peace talks were supposedly focused in discussion on socio-economic reforms and interim ceasefire. The possibility of reviving these is "very bright," Bello told the local media. "Even from the statement of the President, he is willing to talk to them (NDF) again."

During his recent visit to Negros Occidental, Duterte called on the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army to "kindly stop killings," noting that the government and communist rebels have been fighting and killing for 50 years already.

The CPP, in a statement, said that-while it is waging a nationwide armed struggle to confront the Duterte's "full-scale" all-out war-it is reiterating its call for the resumption of the 5th round of the NDFP-GRP peace negotiations in order to pursue discussions on the release of all political prisoners and the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER).

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But the communists rejected local peace negotiations being pushed by local bureaucrats and military officials and supported by the President himself. The CPP said the local peace talks of Duterte will surely fail in its aim of dividing the revolutionary forces waging a nationwide people's war.

"These are mere rehashes of worn-out psy-war surrender programs such as the 'balik-baril program' and the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) riding on the popular clamor for peace talks," it added. (FREEMAN)

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