Communist rebels eye talks with Robredo for ‘post-Duterte’ resumption of peace negotiations

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 19) — The National Democratic Front of the Philippines, which represents communist rebels in peace talks with the government, wants to discuss the resumption of negotiations with Vice President Leni Robredo after botched efforts with the Duterte administration.

“The NDFP, including its panel, should hold discussions with opposition parties, in particular, the Liberal Party,” said Julie de Lima, the newly-appointed NDFP negotiating panel interim chairperson who replaced the late Fidel Agcaoli. Robredo is chairperson of the Liberal Party.

De Lima added that the communist organization should engage with Robredo as constitutional successor "to press for the resumption of the peace negotiation as a rallying point in the effort to oust Duterte.”

The Communist Party of the Philippines released a statement on Friday on these remarks that De Lima made in a Thursday interview with Ang Bayan, its official publication.

The CPP and its armed wing New People’s Army are waging Asia’s longest-running insurgency which has spanned over five decades. President Rodrigo Duterte formally terminated the on-and-off peace talks in November 2017, just more than a year in office, as both sides accused each other of ceasefire violations.

READ: How peace talks with communist rebels failed

“Prospects for resuming the peace negotiations after Duterte, whether he is ousted or he finishes his term, are possible and desirable,” De Lima said.

She said priority would be given to tackling social and economic reforms in a “post-Duterte scenario.” The CPP has been pushing for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), even making it a condition for its self-exiled founding chairman Jose Maria Sison to accept Duterte’s previous invitations for a face-to-face meeting in the Philippines.

De Lima said the CASER seeks to establish quality health services for all and disaster preparedness and response which are necessary amid the coronavirus pandemic. It also has provisions to hold corrupt and negligent government officials criminally and civilly liable, she said.

Robredo's office and the Palace have yet to respond to the NDFP's statement.