MANILA - A New People's Army (NPA) regional command on Monday welcomed President Duterte's willingness to resume peace talks with communists, but reiterated that his administration "must not put any precondition to the success of the negotiations."
"Any unreasonable condition laid by Duterte will not help in the forwarding of the peace talks," NPA-Southern Tagalog command spokesperson Jaime Padilla said in a statement.
The government, Padilla said, should not coerce the NPA's political wing, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), to "cease their legitimate influence" because it is a "legitimate government" that has its own laws revolutionary laws and justice system.
State negotiators and communist rebels agreed Sunday to revive peace talks in April and restore separate ceasefires after an escalation of deadly clashes.
The NDFP pledged to release 7 law enforcers held as prisoners of war as a gesture of "seriousness in continuing the peace talks," Padilla said.
The government, meanwhile, committed to ensuring the participation of 4 detained consultants in the talks by exerting "best efforts" to release them before the April round. It will also "work for the release" of 19 political prisoners based on humanitarian grounds.