Presidential peace adviser: New panel to oversee localized talks with Reds

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In a statement, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said the panel will allow government to 'directly' engage with the rebels on ground.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 15) — The new peace panel President Rodrigo Duterte plans to create will oversee the localized negotiations with communist rebels, the government's peace adviser said Monday.

In a statement, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said the panel will allow government to 'directly' engage with the rebels on ground.

"Through the formulation of the new panel, government will be directly engaging the people on the ground to address the fundamentals of the problem," Galvez said in a statement.

"The panel will oversee the localized peace engagements. It will act as the adviser for local peace dialogues through the establishment of protocols and other legal and systematic procedures. This includes the vital component of a security lens in this process, hence the need for former security officials to be part of the panel," he added.

Galvez explained the government has already "learned its lessons" from previous negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) — National Democratic Front (NDFP) and the New People's Army, which Duterte had terminated through Proclamation 360 on Nov. 23, 2017.

He then slammed CPP founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison for calling on the NDFP to reject the planned panel.

Sison had argued that placing more military men in the negotiations would not create a peace panel but a "war panel" instead.

"It is unfortunate that instead of reciprocating the government's initiative to move the peace process forward, Joma Sison immediately rejected the idea," he said. "And this raises the question: Is Mr. Sison for genuine peace?"

READ: Joma Sison: Duterte only creating 'war panel' with military men in peace talks

The peace adviser said this new peace panel is in line with the "whole-of-nation" approach stated within Executive Order 70 to address the five-decade long communist insurgency in the Philippines.