Reds respond to Duterte appeal for talks

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Members of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) hold a demonstration calling for peace negotiations and social economic reforms in Manila on January 23, 2017. -- AFP

THE National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in a statement on Monday, Nov. 13, said it welcomes President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s “appeal” on Sunday for new peace talks, which have been intermittently stalled time and again in the course of encounters between government forces and the rebels.

“The NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms welcomes in essence Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s statement, made before the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit on Sunday, in which he said: ’We appeal to revolutionaries to simmer down; we talk,’” the NDFP said in the statement.

The group also noted in part: “We appreciate that Duterte made the call in that venue and in the shadow of US President Donald Trump’s visit,” whose effigy nevertheless was burned by leftist ralliers on Monday.

“We qualify, however, the nuance of his ’appeal to revolutionaries to simmer down,’ and wish to point out that the revolutionary forces have, in the main, remained in the defensive,” the NDFP also said, adding:

“It is the state forces that need to simmer down, and credibly so, to help create a viable atmosphere for peace talks to proceed and for the implementation of any agreement reached.”

The group also asked that “all political prisoners be freed immediately and unconditionally.”

“As a matter of principle, the NDFP continues to be open to the continuation of peace talks under Duterte. It is more than ready to immediately resume the long-delayed talks on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).”

“We have always asserted that the CASER is the meat of the talks, as it contains measures that will address the social and economic root causes of the armed conflict,” the NDFP also said.

“We welcome Duterte’s promise made in the same venue to adjust the 2018 national budget in order to support micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises,” the group also noted in part.