Gov’t, Reds begin back-channel talks

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(LtoR) The founder of the Filipino Communist Party and National Democratic Front’s (NDF) Chief Political Consultant, Jose Maria Sison; Norwegian Special Envoy, Elisabeth Slattum; Philippines’ Presidential Advisers on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza and Silvestre H. Bello III take part in a meeting as part of the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDF organised by the Dutch government on April 2, 2017 in the Dutch town of Noordwijk aan Zee. / AFP PHOTO / Sophie MIGNON

MALACAÑANG ON Tuesday said the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) is currently holding informal back-channel talks in Europe with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) in a bid to resume peace negotiations within 60 days.

“President Duterte was briefed last night [May 7] after the Cabinet meeting by Cabinet Secretaries Jesus G. Dureza and Silvestre H. Bello III to inform him that the efforts to resume peace negotiations with the CPP-NPA-NDF are underway with back-channel informal talks now taking place in Europe,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. told reporters in a press briefing at the Palace.

He added: “Secretaries Dureza and Bello informed the President that his clear directives are being relayed across the table, and are now the subject of discussions in the ongoing meetings.”

Mr. Bello also serves as GRP panel chairman while Mr. Dureza is Mr. Duterte’s adviser on the peace process.

Mr. Roque likewise said that according to Mr. Dureza, the government’s team in Europe has informed him “there are initial positive results.”

“The team will return home soon to personally brief the President of the outcome. Secretary Bello said they are doing their best to meet the deadlines set by the President about the resumption of talks within 60 days,” Mr. Roque said.




Last month, Mr. Duterte invited CPP founder Jose Maria Sison to return home for the peace talks.

For his part, Mr. Sison said, he will only return to Manila if his “comrades and lawyers are satisfied with legal and security precautions.”

“In response, I declare that I will certainly return home when a significant advance in the peace negotiations has been achieved within the framework of The Hague Joint Declaration and when my comrades and lawyers are satisfied with legal and security precautions,” Mr. Sison said in a statement. — Arjay L. Balinbin

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