October 23, 2017, 2:26 pm
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Bello: Peace talks with Reds still ‘alive’

PEACE talks between government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP) remain “alive” and waiting for President’s Duterte’s go signal to formally resume, chief government negotiator and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said yesterday.

Bello said there had been no formal termination of the negotiations despite Duterte’s recent order canceling the talks, and statement that the local communist group should probably just wait for the next president before talking again with government.

Bello said what had been cancelled were formal meetings scheduled last June and July.

“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 or would have held some time in June, and then in July… That did not mean that the talks were cancelled or terminated,” he said.

He said before talks could be terminated, one of the parties must first serve a written notice of termination to the other. The termination will take effect 30 days after receipt of the notice of termination.

Bello said the President had made it clear he wants lasting peace to be his legacy.

“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 added.

Duterte on October 5 said he no longer wants to talk peace with the communist group which he said may have to wait for another president with whom it could talk peace. Peace adviser Jesus Dureza later that day said Duterte “was just expressing his great frustration” that his efforts to finally end insurgency were not reciprocated.

Last month, Duterte said he would still consult his security officials about resuming the peace talks.

A fifth round of formal peace talks scheduled in May to June was cancelled after the communist group declared intensified offensives against government forces implementing martial law in Mindanao. In July, Duterte announced the cancellation of the talks.

NPA members burned the control room of a facility of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines in Bauko town in Mountain Province on Tuesday, causing a brownout in the entire province and parts of Benguet.

Lt. Col. Isagani Nato, spokesman of the military’s Northern Luzon Command, said 10 rebels broke into the premises of the NGCP facility in Barangay Otucan Norte at around 10:45 p.m., disarmed the security guards, and proceeded to the control room of the corporation and set it on fire.

Nato said the NGCP was attacked for its refusal pay extortion money to the NPA.  

The rebels fled with two 9 mm pistols, two cellphones, three handheld radios, and magazines.

Also on Tuesday, two groups of NPA rebels burned three heavy equipment of the Delta Earth Moving Construction Company in separate incidents in Diadi town in Nueva Vizcaya, said Nato.

The first incident occurred at around 7:30 p.m. at the boundary of barangays Escoting and San Pablo and the second, at around 10:45 p.m. in Barangay Arwas.

Nato said the attacks damaged a dump truck, a water truck, and a backhoe. 
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