President Rodrigo Duterte has not abandoned his promise to bring lasting peace to the country as government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III said the peace talks have not been officially terminated.
Despite Duterte’s repeated remarks that he would no longer pursue talks with the communist rebels, Bello said no formal letter of termination had been sent to the other party.
“[I]n order to terminate the talks, the either of the parties have to serve the [other] party with a written notice of termination and the termination takes effect 30 days after receipt of that notice of termination,” Bello said in a Palace briefing.
Duterte has repeatedly said he would no longer push through with the peace talks with the communist rebels, saying it’s “a waste of people’s money.”
The fifth round of peace talks with the rebels was suspended on May 27 when the government panel withdrew from the negotiating table after the CPP ordered NPA guerrillas to intensify attacks against security forces. Another round of peace talks was supposed to be held but didn’t push through.
In July, Duterte ended the peace talks with the communists following a series of attacks carried out by the NPA against government forces.
But Bello said the President was only referring to the next round of talks and not the entire peace talks.
“Well, when the President mentioned about not talking to them, probably our President was referring to the two cancelled talks that we were supposed to hold,” he said. “He ordered that cancelled for a very good reason.”
“But that did not mean that the talks were cancelled or terminated and we have been consistently saying that,” he added.
Despite Duterte’s claims of abandoning the peace talks, his chief negotiator said otherwise.
“If you recall, when the president came in as our President, he made a very clear statement that his legacy to our country and our countrymen is a lasting peace for our country. So, I don’t think that the President has abandoned that legacy,” Bello said.
In a speech on October 5 before soldiers in Taguig, Duterte said he would leave it up to the next president to pursue the peace talks with the communists.
But Bello downplayed the President’s remarks.
“I don’t know but the talks are alive and we are just waiting for the President to give us the instruction to go back to the peace table,” he said. /je
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