THE National Democratic Front on Monday said peace talks with the government may resume in May if the government releases 16 NDF “peace consultants,” including top communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.
“If there is political will, there is a possibility that within six months, before the end of [President Benigno] Aquino’s term, the puwede pa [ang resumption of talks],” NDF peace panel chairman Luis Jalandoni said at a forum in Quezon City.
“What is important in the peace talks is that it does not result capitulation [of the communist rebels],” Jalandoni added.
Aside from the release of the NDF consultants, Jalandoni the government must also release at least 200 political prisoners in government custody.
“The priority (for release) is on those who are sick, elderly, and those who have been imprisoned for four years or more,” he said.
The NDF leadership had already expressed willingness last month to resume peace negotiations with the government that has remained stalled for four years now.
“The NDF continues to be ready to resume negotiations,” CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison said in a podcast. “But it seems it is the government that is not ready. This makes the resumption of formal talks difficult.”
“Malacañang has said that their attention now is on the Bangsamoro Basic Law to complete the peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front,” Sison said, but Aquino has yet to firm up the composition of the government negotiating panel.
“It appears that the Aquino regime has no interest in the peace talks and only want to use force to quell the revolutionary movement,” he said.
Jalandoni echoed Sison’s statement, urging the government to concentrate on the stalled peace talks with the communist group while addressing issues with the MILF.
“The Aquino regime is preoccupied to the deepest extent in the Mamasapano incident,” Jalandoni said in a separate statement.
He said the administration must show “political will” for the peace negotiations to move forward.
Both sides were hoping to jumpstart the peace talks this year with backchannel talks that began in the last quarter of 2014, but were overtaken by the January 25 Mamasapano debacle.