MANILA - Former president Fidel Ramos believes there is a better chance for a peace accord with the communist insurgency under the Duterte administration.
Ramos, who was instrumental in the signing of a peace agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberal Front in 1996, was one of the guests of honor in the Philippine National Police turnover ceremony for newly installed PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa.
The former president said one of the most encouraging signs in the government's push for a peace deal with the Communist Party of the Philippines is the active participation of its founder, Jose Maria Sison.
"There is a better chance of success now. Noong araw, pinababayaan lang ni Chairman Joma (Sison) iyan, pinapabayaan sa mga negotiator. But in the past days, siya ang humarap with his panel. We have a better chance," Ramos said.
Government peace negotiators and representatives of the National Democratic Front earlier signed a statement to resume formal peace talks in the third week of July in Norway.
The government side is represented by incoming labor secretary Silvestre Bello, Hernani Braganza, and incoming peace adviser Jesus G. Dureza. The NDF was represented by panel chair Luis Jalandoni, Fidel Agcaoili and chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison.
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Sison earlier said he will return to the Philippines but on the condition that all political prisoners be released, a ceasefire between the New People's Army and the government would be in place, and that the peace process is already rolling.
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Meanwhile, Ramos said he is elated that President Duterte sees him as a mentor in leading the country.
Duterte made special mention of Ramos during his speech in Camp Crame as one of those responsible for making him win the presidency.
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"I'm very proud about that, but I'm sure he is also proud of himself, for having won the opportunity to serve the country. Let us all support him," Ramos said.
One of Duterte's most challenging tasks, Ramos said, is how to bring progress to Mindanao.