By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
To possibly resume the peace negotiations with the Reds, Malacañang said the New People’s Army (NPA) would first have to humble itself before President Duterte considers to revive the terminated talks.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque issued the clarification after it was reported that Duterte expressed willingness to talk to Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison in an attempt to revive the peace talks which was terminated in November 2017.
Roque, in a press briefing, said Duterte did indeed say that he would be willing to talk to Sison but clarified that the talk is not a precondition for the peace talks to resume.
“Ilalagay ko lang po siguro sa tamang konteksto…the general answer is kinakailangan munang magpakumbaba ang NPA bago magpatuloy ang peace talks (Let me put it in the proper context, the general answer is the NPA first needs to show humility before we can proceed with the peace talks),” Roque said today.
Duterte made the comments in an exclusive interview with MindaNews on Friday.
“And then tinanong lang siya, ‘Si Joma Sison, kakausapin mo ba? (He was asked if he would talk to Joma Sison, he said) “O sige (Sure), one on one,’” recalled Roque, who was present during the interview.
“Pero (But) in other words, contextually, it is not as if the President said, he is willing to resume with peace talks after he talks to Joma Sison,” he added.
“What he said was kailangang magpakumbaba muna ang NPA (The NPA needs to humble itself). And the possibility of a one-on-one meeting was proposed by the journalist but that is not a precondition for the resumption of peace talks,” he continued.
According to Roque, the NPA is a group who thinks highly of themselves and wants to share the powers of the President, which he noted, is impossible.
“He [President Duterte] wants the general acknowledgment na (that) the NPA are human beings, are Filipinos; and that they respect against the sovereignty of the Philippines,” he said.
The Palace official added that the NPA needs to show sincerity to the peace talks by not launching attacks on government forces and leaving collateral damage behind.
Roque also clarified that until such time, the possibility for the formal peace talks to resume is still zero.
“Anything can happen in this world, I guess. But for now it [the door to peace talks] is close,” he said.
Roque also dismissed Sison’s statement that the CPP founder is willing to talk to Duterte but their meeting should meet in a neutral country.
“Sorry to burst his bubble, he’s not that important,” Roque said.
Duterte terminated the peace talks with the Reds in November 2017, through Proclamation 360, following the NPA’s ambush in Talakag, Bukidnon which left a policeman and a four-month-old baby dead on November 10, 2017.
“In spite of the best efforts exerted by the administration, the NDF-CPP-NPA failed to show its sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peace negotiations as it engaged acts of violence and hostilities, endangering the lives and properties of innocent people,” the Proclamation read.
On December 5, Duterte signed Proclamation 374 declaring the Reds as terrorists and have them arrested under the Human Security Act (HSA). He earlier ordered the arrest of non-armed legal fronts for conspiracy to commit terrorism under the HSA, and the rearrest of those temporarily released as an act of good faith to the peace talks aside from those who are already old.