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Peace talks resumption should have no preconditions —CPP founder Joma

Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison on Thursday said that there should be no preconditions for the resumption of peace talks, noting that the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to go back to the negotiating table is being welcomed as good development.

In a phone interview on Dobol B sa News TV, Sison from The Netherlands said "Dapat walang preconditions ang pagbabalik sa usapang pangkapayapaan."

Earlier, Duterte said that if the peace talks were to resume, there must be a genuine ceasefire, the New People's Army (NPA) guerrillas must release all soldiers and civilians they are holding, and there must be an end to extortion activities.

But Sison insisted that either side should not set preconditions for the talks.

"Kapag may gusto, dapat may laya 'yung anumang panig na magreklamo. Ihapag niya sa pag-uusapan ng dalawang panig. Doon nalulutas 'yung problema," he said.

Sison added that both sides should reaffirm the "previous agreements and remove all obstacles and hindrances. 'Yun 'yung guideline ng negotiating panel."

Enabling environment

In a separate interview on Dobol B sa News TV, Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza clarified that while the government peace panel is set to do whatever it can to follow the directive of the President for the resumption of the talks, there should be an enabling environment for the process to proceed.

"Bago mag-umpisa muli ang usapan, dapat muna walang pang-aatake."

Duterte called on the insurgents to stop committing atrocities and collecting "revolutionary taxes," and to agree to a bilateral ceasefire.

But earlier, Dureza said that these are not preconditions but "enabling environment." 

Last Wednesday, Duterte declared his plan to revive the peace negotiations with communist rebels which had been scuttled last November.

“Let’s give this [peace talks] another last chance," Dureza quoted Duterte as saying.

Asked about the target of the resumption of the talks, Dureza said: “We’ll see when that ‘enabling environment’ [conducive for negotiations] becomes apparent.”

Dureza expressed confidence that the peace talks could go a long way as "both sides must have already learned from the past mistakes" and said that both parties should grab this "last chance" for peace. —LBG/KG, GMA News