Labor Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello said peace talks with Philippine communist rebels would likely resume next year.
Bello with Jesus Dureza, were the former heads of the Philippine panel negotiating peace with the communist rebels, was ordered recently by President Rodrigo Duterte to meet with Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria (Joma) Sison on the possibility of resuming the talks.
Sison said they are open to resuming peace negotiations with the government “in a country near the Philippines.”
Since the Philippine government began negotiating with the communist rebels during the time of President Corazon Aquino in 1986, talks between the two camps were always held in Europe.
Early this year, President Duterte suspended talks with the NDFP, after the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the communist movement, continued attacking government forces and civilians in the countryside.
Sison had been in self-exile in the Netherlands and he and other communist rebels have staunchly objected to peace talks being held in the Philippines.
Sison made the announcement days after President Duterte said he would like to resume the talks in a bid to end the 50-year old communist insurgency.
Sison said the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), a coalition of organizations linked to the CPP which represents it in peace talks, has agreed to resume negotiations with the government “provided certain issues are first settled.”
He said that he would like to meet President Duterte “at a certain point in time,” but would want the meeting to be held somewhere near the Philippines first.
“It is a goal worth aiming for in order to accelerate progress in the peace negotiations. There is yet no clear schedule for the face to face meeting,” Sison said. (With CNN report)