By Francis Wakefield
Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza today said they are doing their best to meet the 60-day deadline set by President Duterte for the resumption of peace talks with the Reds.
Dureza made the remark as he and Labor Secretary and concurrent chief peace negotiator Silvestre Bello III briefed President Durerte on the latest about the peace talks.
He said they informed the Chief Executive that the efforts to resume peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF are underway, with informal back channel talks now taking place in Europe.
“Our team is now in Europe and we are informed that there are initial positive results so far,“ Dureza said.
Bello, for his part, said the team will return home soon to personally brief the President of the outcomes of the talks.
President Duterte, it was recalled, has set a two-month timeline for government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) peace panels to seal a peace agreement.
Duterte said he will allow all consultants of the NDF to participate in the peace negotiations like before but they would be rearrested if the talks fail.
President Duterte terminated the peace talks with the Reds in November last year, citing ceasefire violations and insincerity in dealing with government.
The mercurial Duterte vowed never to revive the peace talks and moved to declare the communists as terrorists.
However, during a previous Cabinet meeting Duterte softened his stand and directed Dureza to work on the resumption of the peace talks but laid down conditions for the talks –no coalition government, no collection of taxes and for rebel fighters to confine themselves inside their camps to prevent misencounters.