Gov’t still open to talks with Reds but with parameters

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By Carmelito Q. Francisco, Correspondent

DAVAO CITY — Despite the apparent fallout between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza said the Duterte administration is still open to the peace talks.

“The doors for the resumption of peace talks with the NDFP are still open,” said Mr. Dureza in a statement Thursday.

He, however, qualified that President Rodrigo R. Duterte will only go back to the negotiating table if certain parameters are complied with.

He listed these parameters as: No coalition government would be forged; ending the collection of the “so-called revolutionary tax” by the New Peoples Army (NPA); signing of a cease-fire agreement under which armed NPA members would be encamped in designated areas; and the venue of the negotiations would be in the country.

Mr. Dureza said the President is also hoping that Norway will continue to take part as facilitator of the talks should there be a resumption.

In the meantime, added Mr. Dureza, “localized peace arrangements may be pursued by the local government units with the insurgents in their respective areas of responsibility.”

“This ‘way forward’ in the stalled peace talks was decided following the consolidation of various positions expressed during the command conference convened by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte last night in Malacañang,” he said.

Exiled NDFP consultant Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, earlier said he cannot pursue any talks with the government until Mr. Duterte is no longer in office.