Duterte: Peace panel can 'always resuscitate' talks with Communists

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 8) — President Rodrigo Duterte hinted Friday there may still be hope for the scuttled peace talks between the government and communist rebels.

Speaking at the 84th anniversary of the Department of Labor and Employment, Duterte said peace efforts with the New People's Army (NPA) may be "resuscitated" by government peace negotiators.

"I had to stop the talks with the NPAs, but Bebot (DOLE Secretary and Government Peace Panel Chairman Silvestre Bello III) and company can always resuscitate it at some other time," he said.

Duterte ended peace talks with the National Democratic Front, the Communist Party of the Philippines' political arm, last November. This was after the CPP's armed wing, the NPA, launched continued attacks despite ongoing negotiations.

READ: Duterte: Peace talks canceled when communists proposed a coalition gov't

The government has since cracked down on the rebels.

Shortly after ending talks, Duterte signed a proclamation declaring the CPP and NPA as a terrorist group.

The Justice Department has also sought to arrest again some NDF consultants who had been released from jail for the peace negotiations.

READ: NDF to ask courts to stop arrest of freed peace talk consultants

Duterte said the government can subsidize talks with the Communists if their leadership agrees to stop collecting  "revolutionary taxes" from businesses.

"They have to agree to stop to impose revolutionary tax. We can subsidize the talks and the billeting," he said. "Ako na ang mag-gastos [I can spend] but you have to stop."

Duterte had previously warned mining companies that the government would shut down their operations if they continued to pay the CPP revolutionary taxes.

READ: Duterte to mining companies paying taxes to communists: Stop or I will shut you down

The communist insurgency in the Philippines is Asia's longest-running armed struggle. It has spanned nearly half a century, since the CPP was founded in 1968 by then student activist and Duterte's former professor, Jose Ma. Sison.

Negotiations were on and off since 1986, when President Cory Aquino came into office, until Duterte formally terminated the talks last month.

CNN Philippines' Ina Andolong and Amanda Lingao contributed to this story