President Rodrigo Roa Duterte chats with the personnel of the 8th Infantry Division during his visit to Camp General Vicente Lukban in Catbalogan City, Samar on June 19, 2019.
Presidential photo/Karl Norman Alonzo
'It depends': Duterte says he's unsure on resuming talks with Reds
Alexis Romero ( - June 22, 2019 - 6:56pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is unsure whether the peace talks with the communists will be revived but remains firm on his demand for communists to forge a ceasefire deal with the government.

Duterte said the fate of the peace negotiations, which collapsed last year following a series of rebel offensives against government troops, would depend on backchannel efforts. 

"With regard to communists, I don't know if there is a chance of talking again. Maybe yes, maybe no. It will depend on our backchanneling," the president said during the oath taking of local officials in Davao City last Friday.

"But one thing is clear, again I restate: You have to declare a ceasefire and you have to stop collecting money from the people and from the businessmen," he added. 

The president did not provide specifics on the backchannel efforts intended to  resuscitate the talks. 

Duterte has been sending mixed signals with regard to the talks with communist rebels, who have been waging an armed struggle against the government for five decades.

In 2017, Duterte issued Proclamation No. 360 declaring the termination of the talks with the communist rebels. In the proclamation, the president said the insurgents failed to show their sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine peace negotiations because they had engaged in acts of violence and hostilities.

In December 2018, the president issued Executive Order No. 70 forming a national task force to “end local communist armed conflict.”

Last February, Duterte expressed readiness to talk to the communists, even offering to shoulder their expenses if they come to Manila for the negotiations. The following month, the president announced what he described as the "permanent" termination of the talks with the insurgents. 

Last May, Duterte said he may form a new panel to negotiate with communists. He said the panel would be composed of at least two civilians and three military officers.

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