MALACANANG does not see the need to have a third party facilitator in the government’s talks with the communist rebels as President Rodrigo Duterte wants negotiations to be held in the Philippines.
In a press conference on Monday, Palace Spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte emphasized that the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines–New People’s Army–National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) should talk among themselves on Philippine soil, instead of Norway, the third party facilitator between the two parties for nearly two decades.
“Whatever process needs to be undertaken will be undertaken but the President has emphasized that these are the talks between Filipinos, it should be held in the Philippines. Hindi naman po kinakailangan pa na mangibang-bayan para makapag-usap ng kapayapaan lamang dahil tayong lahat ay Pilipino (We don’t need to go abroad just to talk about peace because we are all Filipinos),” Roque told reporters.
Norway has been the third party facilitator of the talks since 2001.
Asked who would facilitate the peace talks in the Philippines, Roque said, “Wala na po siguro dahil andito naman tayo sa Pilipinas pero (I think there’s no need for it because we are here in the Philippines but) any party who wants to help and who has been involved in the process can help.”
He also said the Philippine government would relay to Norway the decision of Manila on the change of venue.
“We have a panel and they have the authority to fix the logistics,” the Palace official said.
On Thursday, the President canceled the resumption of formal talks in Oslo, Norway, scheduled for June 28. The date was agreed upon by government and NDF negotiators in a series of back-channel talks.
The President insisted that the talks be held in the Philippines in July but gave no specific dates.
CPP founding chairman Jose Maria “Joma” Sison is against holding formal talks in the Philippines, saying this will spell doom for the negotiations aimed at ending the 50-year communist insurgency. CATHERINE S. VALENTE
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