Duterte to send ex-negotiator Bello to speak to Joma Sison

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The President reveals he will send the former government chief negotiator to speak with the communist leader again on reopening peace talks. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 5) — The President revealed that he will be sending former government chief negotiator and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello to speak with Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Joma Sison, without elaborating on what they are expected to discuss.

President Rodrigo Duterte said he has not yet given up hope on reopening negotiations with Sison even after terminating the talks and the services of its peace panel -- including Bello as negotiator -- in March this year.

"This is the first time that I will reveal it, I'm sending Secretary Bello... He should go there, talk to them...basta I'm sending him back to Sison and talk to him about...malaman ninyo 'yan pagdating ng panahon (you will know when the time is right)," he said Thursday during a situational briefing on the effects of typhoon Tisoy.

He said this after lamenting the long-standing insurgency problem in the country.

"Three times we attempted to talk sense dito (to them) and it has always failed...I cannot stop. Hindi ko sabihin na ayaw ko makipag-usap (I cannot say I do not want to talk), that is not a statement of a leader, of a President," he argued.

Sison is currently in the Netherlands on self-exile. He earlier said he was not surprised the President ended the talks. However, the National Democratic Front which represents communist rebels in the peace negotiations, said it was not closing its doors to reaching an agreement with the government.

"If he (Sison) agrees, ito ang sabi ko (this is what I said is my) last card. When I say last card, my time is running out," Duterte said.