Duterte prefers peace talks in PH to save money

By Genalyn D. Kabiling

President Duterte wants the government to hold peace talks with communist rebels in the Philippines instead of Norway to save costs, Malacañang said yesterday.

“The peace talks must be held here in the Philippines. Kaya nga po ang last declaration niya, it should be held here this July instead of this month,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

“He does not understand why we should continue talking in Norway. Pare-pareho naman tayong Filipino, puwedeng pag-usapan dito na iyan sa Pilipinas, bakit kinakailangan lumayo pa. Gastos pa yan ‘no, ang dami-daming ipapadala pa doon sa Norway,” he added.

The funds to be spent in the negotiations in Norway would be “better spent” in providing for the needs of the communist rebels while the peace talks are ongoing, Roque said.

He said the government would raise the proposed talks in the country to the Norwegian government, which has brokered the negotiations in recent years.

“Whatever process needs to be undertaken will be undertaken. But the President has emphasized that this is a talk between Filipinos, should be held in the Philippines,” he said.

A third-party facilitator might no longer be needed if the talks are held in the country due to the capability of the peace panel to handle logistics concerns, according to Roque.

“Wala na po siguro, nandito na naman tayo sa Pilipinas,” he said. “We have a panel and they have the authority to fix the logistics.”

Roque said the government would still welcome any interested party to facilitate the peace talks between the two sides. “Any party who wants to help and who’s been involved in the process can help,” he added.