Guidelines on localized peace talks to be finalized on July 12

MANILA Members of President Rodrigo R. Duterte's Cabinet cluster on security will be meeting on July 12 to finalize the guidelines for the upcoming localized peace talks with communist rebels.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed this on Thursday, expressing Duterte's support for localized peace talks during the command conference held in MalacaAang on Wednesday night.

Ang alternatibo na pupuwedeng ipatupad ng gobyerno ay iyong localized peace talks (An alternative we can implement are localized peace talks), Roque said in a Palace briefing.

Roque said local government officials have already been conducting localized peace talks resulting in the surrender of insurgents.

That's why bulk of the surrenderees that we have particularly in the Davao Region, is a result of negotiations between the fighters themselves and the local government unit, Roque said.

There will be a meeting of this Cabinet cluster (on security) on July 12 to finalize the guidelines for localized peace talks, he added.

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said Dutete's wishes are: That there will be no coalition government, that there will be a stop in the collection of revolutionary tax, that venue of the talks will be local, and that there will be a ceasefire agreement in which armed New People's Army (NPA) rebels encamped in designated areas.

Roque, meanwhile, shrugged off Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison's claim that localized peace talks were impossible, calling rebel leader's statements irrelevant.

Now that peace talks are not being held, he's completely irrelevant as far as I'm concerned. So Joma Sison can say anything he wants, that's his opinion; he's even living 10,000 miles away. So I don't see how he can even be relevant, Roque said.

He also said Duterte is not taking seriously threats that NPA guerillas are ready to oust Duterte.

We're laughing at it, Roque said.

He also allayed fears that Duterte has plans of declaring martial law.

Paulit-ulit na ngang sinabi ng Presidente, problematic talaga 'yang nationwide martial law (The President has repeatedly said a nationwide martial law is problematic). If he wanted to, he could have � and we all know that, Roque said.

Meanwhile, Roque said Norway could still participate in peace talks any which way they want should they be held within the country.

We're just saying that Norwegians can help any which way they want.

Let's just say that the President did not dispute that Norwegians can be a third party facilitator. But there was no outright statement that they will continue to be a third party facilitator. If the Norwegians can help in localize peace talks, they are more than welcome to do so, he added. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency