Duterte orders forging of ceasefire deal ahead of talks

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 4) -  President Rodrigo Duterte directed officials to work on a ceasefire deal with communist rebels to pave the way for the resumption of peace talks.

In a message sent to the media, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said Duterte gave "clear instructions on  the importance of  forging a ceasefire agreement to stop mutual attacks and fighting while talks are underway."

He quoted the President as saying, "Let's give this another (one) last chance."

Dureza also said Duterte committed  to provide support to the rebel, if necessary, so that they would no longer resort to collecting "revolutionary tax."

Duterte held a Cabinet meeting in Malacanang Wednesday evening.

In a speech in Oriental Mindoro Tuesday, Duterte said he is open to resuming talks with the communists.

"Gusto kong magkaroon tayo ng mayapang usapan. But along the way, maraming,  well, obstructions and everything but you must understand, hindi madali magpunta sa paratingan natin," Duterte said.

[Translation: I want us to have a peaceful talk. But along the way, there will be many obstructions but you must understand, we are not taking an easy path.]

The administration called off negotiations in November 2017 in the wake of successive rebel attacks on civilians and government forces.

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, meanwhile, said in a statement that the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the CPP's political arm, is "sincere" to resume peace talks. But there was no mention of a possible ceasefire.

"We are sincere in striving to negotiate and forge with the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms to address the roots of the armed conflict and lay the basis of a just and lasting peace as well as corollary agreements to amnesty and release all political prisoners and to have coordinated unilateral ceasefires to start the enjoyment of peace," he said.

Sison, who is on exile in the Netherlands, said they expect government and NDFP negotiators to meet as soon as possible "in order to make a significant advance on the basis of the drafts prepared on October 4, 2017."