President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he is sending Labor Secretary and government peace negotiator Silvestre Bello III to the Netherlands to restart peace negotiations with Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison after terminating the dialogues last March.
President Duterte said his administration had thrice attempted to negotiate and forge a peace pact with the communists but failed.
“Ang ano ko ngayon. I cannot stop. Hindi ko pwedeng sabihin ‘Ayaw ko na makipag-usap.’ That is not a statement of a leader, of a president,” the President said during his visit in Legazpi City in Albay on Thursday to check the aftermath of Typhoon “Tisoy.”
“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 the doors must be open always or there must be at least one channel if everything closes na pwede mong pakiusapan,” he added.
The President also admitted that although the security situation in Quezon province has improved, Bicol region remains a hotbed for communist insurgency.
“Quezon medyo maganda na. But ang Bicol, we have a problem, a serious problem of insurgency,” he said.
Early this year, the President officially ended the dialogues between the government and the CPP, saying the insurgents could talk to the next president as he indicated that there would be no more discussions under his administration.
The President said then that his government would concentrate instead in putting an end to the war against the Abu Sayyaf Group and the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country. (PND)