Timeline for peace talks set by Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte gave the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) peace panels two months to seal a peace agreement.

“Ako na. Ako na ang mag-deliver (Let me. Let me deliver). But I’ll have a timeline of something two months, 60 days. Good or break tayo (let us part ways),” he said.

“Ako na ang mag gastos. Ako na ang magdalang bigas. Sison… Well, something a comfortable –ako na, dito nasa hotel (Let me shoulder the expenses, I will provide the food. Sison, well, something comfortable, we’ll bring him to a hotel),” he added.

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.

“You can all go out. All of you. Nothing will happen. But if we fail, I’ll start collecting. Sigurado ‘yan (That’s for sure),” he said.

The President has terminated the peace talks with the Reds in November last year, citing ceasefire violations and insincerity in dealing with government.

However, during the Cabinet meeting Wednesday, Duterte softened his stand and directed Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus 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.

But according to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, the conditions laid out by the President are non-negotiable.

“For the communist, no coalition government. Why? Because of the sovereign will of the people. The sovereign will is in the hands of the Republic of the Philippines–the people. And it could be exercised by just a few because we cannot exercise altogether. We give it to what? To whom?To the leaders. How? Elected,” he stressed.

“You from the outside coming in from the cold cannot share that power because I cannot give it to you because I do not own it. I cannot concede even a tiniest part of that sovereign power because I am not allowed to do it,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Reds are willing to return to the negotiation table if government removes the terrorist tag against the rebels.

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