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Consult public first: Duterte defers resumption of peace talks with Reds on June 28

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President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the government peace panel to consult with the public and other stakeholders first before resuming negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF).

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza on Thursday (June 14) said the resumption of peace talks on June 28 will not push through.

“In our common effort to make sure that we achieve a conducive and enabling environment for peace, President Rodrigo Duterte instructed us last night to engage our bigger ‘peace table’ – the general public as well as other sectors in government as we work to negotiate peace with the communist rebels,” he said in a press briefing in Malacañang.

As a result of Duterte’s order, Dureza said the timeline for the resumption of peace talks with the CPP-NDF has been adjusted.

“Our peace efforts to succeed should have good support from the general public hence it is necessary that all efforts be exerted to inform and engage them in the same way as the government engages the rebels in addressing the root causes of conflict,” he explained.

Earlier in the day, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the President sought for the cooperation of the police and military over the peace talks.

While the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces were supportive of talking to communists, Roque said there was a concern on their part that leftist groups might use the negotiation time to regroup and strengthen their forces.

Dureza emphasized during the press briefing that the President wanted to conduct a massive public consultation on the matter before the government finally lays its cards on the table and agree with the peace talks with CPP-NPA-NDF.

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The almost 50 years of intermittent and often-times disrupted peace negotiations with the communist rebels across several presidencies need a close study for lessons to learn from to insure that our “last chance” to put a dignified closure to the armed rebellion will not be squandered away,” he said.