MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte will practically kill peace talks with communist rebels by insisting that they be held in the Philippines, a consultant of their negotiating panel said Tuesday, warning it would be a "recipe for destruction."
Rey Casambre cited the potential harm on fellow consultants and members of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ (NDFP) panel such as arrest and military surveillance.
"It’s not negotiable," he told reporters. "No way peace talks held in the Philippines can be protected and spared from sabotage by spoilers and enemies of a genuine peace process."
NDFP legal consultant Rachel Pastores cited the president’s previous remarks ordering the arrest of her colleagues each time negotiations bogged down.
Malacañang on Monday said the President wanted formal talks to resume in July in the Philippines.
Pastores said her group was willing to return to the negotiating table "but not on terms disadvantageous to any party."
"The ball is in the hands of the government," she said in a press conference.
Duterte earlier announced a 60-day window for peace negotiations, but it was unclear to both panels whether he was referring to the resumption of formal talks or the signing of a final peace agreement.
The two sides immediately got down to work, holding a series of backchannel negotiations in Utrecht, The Netherlands from May to June.
Casambre said expectations were "high" from both parties that formal talks would resume on June 28, given the commitments during the informal negotiations.
Among them was a stand-down agreement signed on June 8 and was supposed to take effect one week before talks resume.
It was supposed to provide a "positive atmosphere conducive to moving forward and completing the peace negotiations."