DAVAO CITY - Incoming President Rodrigo Duterte said he expects long and contentious discussions towards achieving peace with communist and Muslim rebels and establishing a federal form of government.
Duterte admitted eradicating criminality, illegal drugs and corruption is a much easier task than reaching peace in the country’s strife-torn areas.
“Itong peace talks with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and NPA (New People’s Army) and [forming a] federal setup, I’d be able to realize it after a long — I expect long, very contentious discussions,” he said.
“Pero itong criminality, corruption. Iyon madali iyon.”
The Duterte administration seems bent on ending the nearly five-decade long Maoist insurgency in the Philippines.
He revealed during a Sunday press conference that he would send emissaries to Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison, who is on self-exile in the Utrecht.
(READ: Duterte to start preliminary talks with leftist rebels)
The meeting would jumpstart the peace talks between the Philippine government and communist rebels following years of impasse.
Meanwhile, the fate of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, a product of the peace talks between the Aquino government and the MILF, remains uncertain under the Duterte administration.
(READ: Duterte gov't to push federalism over BBL)
Duterte’s pick for House Speaker, Pantaleon Alvarez, earlier said that the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be rendered moot once the form of government shifts from unitary to federal.
But Jesus Dureza, named by Duterte as the next head of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, said Alvarez is just “one of the voices we’ll consider” and that nothing is final yet.
“We are working on a possible roadmap from here onwards. So tingnan natin. We will be doing a lot of consultations and, of course, we will get our directions directly from Mayor Duterte,” Dureza said at the sidelines of the press conference.