Drilon backs Duterte on talks with insurgents in the Philippines

The government had been engaged in ‘back channel talks’ with the Communist Party of the Philippines and held several rounds of negotiations

A combo picture showing opposition Philippine Senator Franklin Drilon (right) and President Rodrigo Duterte. The senator support Duterte’s call that the peace negotiations with the communists insurgents be held in the Philippines rather than abroad.

Manila: Opposition Senator Franklin Drilon supports President Rodrigo Duterte’s call that the peace negotiations with the communists insurgents be held in the Philippines rather than abroad.

“I support the President’s decision. The venue of the next round of peace negotiations with the rebel groups should be the Philippines,” Drilon, the Senate Minority Leader said on Saturday.

“It’s about time that we change the venue of peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) and it is about time that it takes place on Philippine soil,” Drilon, who served as a peace process adviser in the past administrations, said.

The government had been engaged in “back channel talks” with the Communist Party of the Philippines — New People’s Army — National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and several rounds of peace negotiations under the Duterte administration had been held in Norway and the Netherlands. On Wednesday, the President unilaterally said that he is cancelling the succeeding rounds of the talks and if the parlays do proceed, it should be held in the Philippines.

Drilon, pertaining to insistence by Duterte to hold the talks in the Philippines said the insurgency is better settled by those directly involved.

“While the Norwegian government has played a valuable role in the country’s peace process, “the time has come for the Philippines and the CPP/NPA/NDF to talk among themselves,” Drilon said.

“The peace talks have always been held in an international ground but it did not seem to accelerate discussion. Let the real peace talks begin in a local arena. No third party this time,” the Senator said.

“Perhaps, it can accelerate discussions and both panels can finally come to an agreement. The Philippine as a venue of the peace talks speaks volume of the government’s sincerity to end the decades-long arm struggle with the rebels,” Drilon said, pertaining to the nearly 50 year-old insurgency conflict.

Earlier on Thursday, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza formally announced the postponement of the resumption of peace talks “to allow the public to engage more in the peace process.”

“Our peace efforts to succeed should have good support from the general public hence it is necessary that all efforts be exerted to inform and engage them in the same way as the government engages the rebels in addressing the root causes of conflict. Our peace efforts to succeed should have good support from the general public hence it is necessary that all efforts be exerted to inform and engage them in the same way as the government engages the rebels in addressing the root causes of conflict,” Dureza said.

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