Reds open to resume peace talks with gov't 'without preconditions'


Posted at Apr 02 2018 03:43 PM

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MANILA - The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) on Monday said it is open to the possibility of resuming peace talks with the government "without preconditions."

Fidel Agcaoili, chief negotiator for the NDFP, said they still have the draft of documents that would have been discussed had the government not cancelled the peace talks in November 2017.

"No preconditions. We sit down and talk on basis of the 3 agreements, drafts we have prepared in October, which should have been discussed in November," he told ANC.

"Had there been a formal meeting, all documents would have been signed. By this time, we would have what was offered or proposed by the government—a unilateral coordinated ceasefire," he said.

Agcaoili said these 3 agreements include a coordinated ceasefire, general amnesty for political prisoners, and the signing of what was agreed upon by the reciprocal working committees. 

He said the move to formally declare the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army as terrorists, is a hindrance and that has to be dealt with in the backchannel discussions.

But Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, government chief negotiator, said he would not recommend the resumption of peace talks with the communists if asked by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Bello believes the NDFP's sincerity on going back to the negotiation table is "still lacking."

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said there must be an "enabling environment" before the government returns to the negotiating table.

"[T]hey (communist rebels) must cease their hostilities against innocent civilians and government forces, end their extortion activities, violent streaks and wanton killings, lay down their arms and return to the fold of law and restart to live normal lives," he added.

--with a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News