MANILA- Former National Democratic Front (NDF) negotiator Satur Ocampo on Monday said communist rebels have now gotten used to President Rodrigo Duterte's moods following the collapse and resumption of peace talks.
“We just have to accept the President as he is,” Ocampo said on ANC’s “Early Edition.”
Ocampo said it was Duterte who first initiated the resumption of talks through Peace Process Adviser Jesus Dureza.
However, Dureza said in a text message to ABS-CBN News that the resumption of talks was "mutually desired which is why there are positive results."
Duterte cancelled talks with communist leaders last month after a series of armed clashes between government and rebel forces.
Asked on how backchannel talks began, Ocampo claimed that Dureza reached out to the communists through phone calls.
Ocampo believes that the government panel and communist leaders are reviewing the effects of the armed clashes following the suspension of ceasefires from both sides.
“The period between now and the formal talks was a period of assessing the impacts of armed clashes in a period where the ceasefires have been withdrawn,” he said.
Ocampo also hopes that Duterte would issue a clarification on whether his earlier pronouncement of labeling the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People's Army, and NDF as terrorist groups, has legal implications now that both sides have agreed to resume talks.
“I think that has to be clarified whether those statements of the President can hold any legal implication because they all agreed to go through negotiations. The standing policy is government does not talk to terrorists,” he said.
The government and communist rebels have agreed to revive formal peace negotiations after a one-month-long suspension, according to a joint statement released Sunday.
The military and NPA guerrillas agreed to restore their respective unilateral ceasefire declarations before the talks resume in the first week of April. A bilateral truce will be negotiated, the statement said.
The government will also release a rearrested consultant of the Left and reactivate an an agreement on immunities to allow 19 others to participate in the talks, the statement added.