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Duterte eyes ‘partnership’ with Reds

  • Written by Efren Montano
  • Published in Top Stories
  • Read: 372

IT’S not a coalition but a “partnership” that President Rodrigo Duterte wants to have with the National Democratic Front (NDF).

“I was talking to the NDF panel and we had the discussion about how to shape up a government without necessarily going into the complicated task of coalition because I don’t think it would work,” Duterte said in a speech in Malacañang.

“And I said that maybe, what would come out of these talks in Oslo… I would insist that I retain the control of the military and the police, and they can have the mundane matters of government. As a matter of fact, nandiyan na sila,” the President said.

The government and NDF panels are expected to revive the peace negotiations when they meet in Oslo, Norway on August 20.
   
The President on Monday met with former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, NDF legal counsel Edre Olalia and other NDF personalities.
   
The meeting came following an exchange of  barbs between the government and the communists after Duterte scrapped the government’s unilateral ceasefire even as he threatened to call off peace talks altogether if the communist insurgents would not stop assaults on soldiers.
     
Olalia said the meeting with Duterte was “cordial,” even “humorous.”
   
“It was positive. Very light, cordial, warm, conversational and humorous exchange,” Olalia said.
   
Duterte wants to forge lasting and genuine peace via a political settlement with the Reds.
   
Reports said that chief NDF negotiator Luis Jalandoni described the relationship between the revolutionary movement and Duterte as “excellent” pointing out that “glitches like these can be fixed through peaceful dialogue”.
   
The rebels also want to discuss the crafting of a general amnesty proclamation by Duterte covering all 550 detained members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing the New People’s Army.
   
Ahead of the Oslo talks, 18 political prisoners are expected to be released for the peace negotiations including party chiefs Benito Tiamzon and wife Wilma Tiamzon.
   
All 18 are expected to be freed from Manila prisons this week so they can fly to Oslo to help out in the negotiations as “consultants” to the National Democratic Front.
   
Duterte has assured leaders of the NDF that its consultants will all be able to join the formal peace talks in Oslo, Norway next week.
   
“The President assured NDF lawyers present during the meeting in Malacañang yesterday (August 15) that the NDF consultants will fly to Oslo,” Labor Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III said in a statement released by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) yesterday.
   
The government has withdrawn its longstanding opposition to bail petitions filed in court by 18 detained top communist leaders, which has led to the release of couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.
   
Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza also announced over the weekend the release of two more communist leaders, Ariel Arbitrario and Porferio Tuna.
   
Eighteen more are expected to be freed this week before the government and the NDF resume peace talks in Oslo on August 22.
   
In the same OPAPP statement, Dureza assured that Duterte is willing to “walk the extra mile for peace.”
   
Dureza, who is currently in Malaysia handling the peace negotiations with Moro rebels, will lead the government’s panel in Oslo.
   
Bello, who flew to Saudi Arabia on Monday night, will proceed to Oslo to join the talks.
   
Duterte and exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison have traded barbs with each other after the government scrapped its unilateral ceasefire declaration following a New People’s Army ambush of soldiers in Davao del Norte.
emontano