President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday tasked Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to fly to The Netherlands to talk with exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison.
Duterte made the pronouncement during the situation briefing in Legazpi City on the effects of Typhoon Tisoy in the Bicol region, which he said is suffering from a “serious problem” of insurgency.
“The longing for peace is always there. The doors must be open always or there must be at least one channel if everything closes na puwede mong pakiusapan,” the President said.
“I’m sending him [Bello] back to Sison. Malaman lang ninyo ‘yan pagdating ng panahon. If he agrees, ito ang sabi ko last card. When I say my last card is my time is running out.”
Peace negotiations between the government and communist rebels bogged down in November 2017 after Duterte lamented the continued attacks by the rebels on troops and civilians.
The talks were supposed to resume in June last year in Norway but Duterte called it off to give way to public consultations and review of existing agreements.
In March, Duterte said the rebels can just talk to the next president after he announced the termination of the talks and dissolved the government negotiating panel led by Bello.
Five months later, Duterte called on the military to end the communist insurgency in the country to spare the next generation of the problem that has hounded the country for several decades .
Malacañang had said that while the peace negotiations can still be resurrected by a new administration, the communist rebels must first demonstrate genuine sincerity in the peace process by laying down their arms and shun acts of violence including murder, rape, extortion, and destruction of public infrastructure and private properties. —LDF, GMA News