President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday explained why the government pushed back the resumption of peace negotiations with communist rebels.
He said he needed more time.
"So I'm talking to Sison. Sabi niya June. No. I'm not ready for that," Duterte said, recounting a conversation about the peace talks with communist leader Jose Maria Sison.
"Kailangan ko pa ng konting panahon," he added.
Duterte's peace adviser, Jesus Dureza, said earlier in the day that the government wanted to hold more consultations with the public.
Dureza said it was important to get the support of the people in the process of finalizing a peace deal with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front.
Disappointed by the turn of events, Sison called for the release to the public of the "written and signed agreements of June 9 and 10" signed by the chairmen of the government and and NDFP negotiating panels and by the members of their respective special teams.
The agreements pertain to the scheduled start of the stand-down ceasefire on June 21 and the resumption of formal talks in the peace negotiations in Oslo a week later on June 28.
"It is starkly clear that the GRP [Philippine government] under Duterte is not interested in serious peace negotiations with the NDFP," Sison said.
"Because the GRP under Duterte is obviously not interested in serious peace negotiations, the revolutionary forces and the people have no choice but to singlemindedly wage people’s war to achieve the national and social liberation of the Filipino people," he added.
While he acknowledged that it would be difficult for the military and police to make amends with the insurgents, Duterte said it was his job as President to bring peace to the country.
"Sabi ko nga sa mga sundalo: Huwag kayo masaktan. Alam ko sa puso ninyo masakit talaga yan to make peace with the enemies of the state," Duterte said.
"The problem is one of my commitments is that I will talk to the enemies of the state, talk about peace, and maybe in the fullness of God's time we will realize our dream," he added.
Duterte in April announced that he was willing to resume talks with the communists on the condition that the rebels would stop their violent attacks and extortion activities, agree to a bilateral ceasefire, and not insist on a coalition government.
Duterte has also committed to provide livelihood assistance to rebels provided that they stop collecting so-called "revolutionary taxes."
He also expressed willingness to shoulder the expenses during the peace process. —NB, GMA News