Duterte orders Bello to resume talks with Sison

Credit to Author: Catherine S. Valente, TMT| Date: Thu, 05 Dec 2019 12:25:41 +0000

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he ordered Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd to resume talks with exiled communist leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison.

During his visit to Legazpi, Albay, Duterte renewed his interest in reopening the peace talks as “my time was running out.”

Ang ano ko ngayon (My plan now is), I cannot stop. Hindi ko pwedeng sabihin, ayoko nang makipag-usap (I can’t say that I don’t want to talk). That is not a statement of a leader, of a president. Alam mo ‘yung mga (You know the) military, but you know, you should understand that the quest for, the longing for peace is always there, and not for the military and the police but for everybody. Kailangan (It is important that) the doors must be open always or there must be at least one channel, if everything closes na pwede mong pakiusapan (that you can appeal to),” Duterte said.

“Now this is the first time I will reveal it. I’m sending Secretary Bello. Komunista naman talaga ito siya (He is really a communist) so he should go there, talk to them… I cannot talk about it. Basta I’m sending him back to Sison and talk to him. Malaman lang ninyo iyang pagdating ng panahon (You will know when the time comes). If he agrees, ito ang sabi ko (this I said) is last card. When I say my last card, my time is running out,” he said.

Duterte has been sending mixed signals with regard to the talks with communist rebels, who have been waging an armed struggle against the government for five decades.

In 2017, Duterte issued Proclamation 360 declaring the termination of the talks with the communist rebels. In the proclamation, the President said the insurgents failed to show their sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine peace negotiations because they had engaged in acts of violence and hostilities.

In December 2018, the President issued Executive Order 70 forming a national task force to “end local communist armed conflict.”

In February, Duterte expressed readiness to talk to the communists, even offering to shoulder their expenses if they come to Manila for the negotiations.

The following month, the President announced what he described as the “permanent” termination of the talks with the insurgents.

In May, Duterte said he may form a new panel to negotiate with communists. He said the panel would be composed of at least two civilians and three military officers.