By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is optimistic that the peace negotiations with the communist rebels could prosper in less than the 60-day window set by President Duterte.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque acknowledged that the two sides must only agree on a “common platform” to combat poverty, the root cause of the rebellion, for the talks to succeed.
“I understand the only agenda is addressing the supposed root causes of rebellion and I don’t think there’s a divergence of views on the root causes on the rebellion — it is poverty,” Roque said during a Palace news conference.
“So if the government and CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army) will agree to address the root causes, then it should not even take 60 days because we have a common platform, mas maginhawang buhay para sa lahat, mas komportableng buhay para sa lahat [A prosperous life for all, a comfortable life for all],” he added.
The 60-day timeframe for the negotiations, Roque said, would start “as soon as both sides have clearly agreed to resume peace talks.”
“The problem is we have been talking peace with them for years and years and years. Walang katapusan. So I think the President said this is our last chance. Sixty days only,” he said.
Months after terminating the negotiations, President Duterte recently offered a 60-day window for the peace talks between the government and the communist rebels. Duterte however asked the rebels to agree to a ceasefire and halt extortion activities if they want to resume the talks.
The President has also asked CPP founder Jose Maria Sison to return home and talk peace with the government. He promised to give Sison, who has been living in exile in the Netherlands since 1987, safe passage and pay for his expenses during his stay in the country.
Reacting to the President’s latest peace overture, Sison reportedly said he was willing to come home and talk peace provided the negotiations would not be derailed by alleged peace spoilers.
On reports that Sison has imposed conditions to ending his exile abroad, Roque said: “I don’t know if he is in a position to provide for conditions.”
“What the President said was if peace talks will resume, he is welcome to come home. The President will assure his security and the fact that he will not be arrested. Beyond that, the President has not acceded to any further terms,” he said.
He said while the President has given his word that Sison will not be apprehended while in the country, the Palace could not make the same guarantee during his flight from the Netherlands.
“That’s beyond our control of course. But in the Philippines, his liberty will be guaranteed by the President,” Roque said, when asked if the Palace could help Sison, currently in the United States’ list of terrorists, in his flight back to the country.
“It’s up to him. Perhaps, he should take Philippine Airlines. That’s the only way. I am not promoting Philippine Airlines incidentally,” he added.