Duterte sees peace deal with Reds by end of 2016
(Philstar.com) - July 5, 2016 - 11:00pm
MANILA, Philippines —  Communist rebels would only get amnesty if they abandon the armed struggle, President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday as he expressed hope that a “firm agreement” would be forged within the year.
Duterte reiterated that he would only release the jailed rebels if the talks succeed.
“It’s good that we're talking to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). (It’s) doing well and we hope to have a firm agreement by the end of the year,” the president said during the 69th anniversary of the Air Force in Clark, Pampanga.
“I’m not ready to release everybody, only after the success of the talks if there is one coming our way…  and we can grant amnesty but they have to lay down their arms,” he added.
Duterte said he is ready to grant safe conduct passes to CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison, and New People’s Army (NPA) leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon so they can participate in the peace talks.
Sison, who got imprisoned during the Marcos dictatorship but freed after the 1986 People Power Revolution, has been on self-exile in The Netherlands since 1987.
The Tiamzons, meanwhile, were charged with murder and got arrested in Cebu in 2014
Talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the political arm of the communists, collapsed in 2013 after they failed to reach a deal on jailed rebels.
The NDFP claimed their jailed comrades are covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), a 1995 deal that prohibits the arrest and detention of peace consultants.
The government panel, however, rejected the demand saying the identities of the alleged peace consultants cannot be validated.
Last month, the Duterte administration and the NDFP agreed to resume the formal talks in the third week of July and to discuss a possible amnesty for political prisoners and an interim truce.
Other topics for discussion are the affirmation of previously signed deals and an accelerated process for negotiations including the timelines for the completion of socioeconomic, political and economic reforms and the end of hostilities.

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