MANILA (Mabuhay) – House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the Philippine government has not yet acted on the overture of the Communist Party of the Philippines – National Democratic Front to resume peace talks.
Belmonte and other top House officials like Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, Appropriations Committee Chair Isidro Ungab and Accounts Committee Chair Eleandro Jesus Madrona earlier met with CPP-NDF leaders Jose Maria Sison and Luis Jalandoni on the sidelines of the hearing of the Philippine-China hearing on the West Philippine Sea dispute in The Hague recently.
According to Belmonte, Jalandoni said they had already sent word through an intermediary about their willingness to resume peace negotiations but there was no feedback yet from Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Teresita Quintos Deles.
“He said the spirit of the whole thing is ‘we should continue the talks’. He mentioned to me their go-between, which is a lady official, was abreast of what was going on and had communicated with Secretary Deles. They had not gotten feedback. I told them I’d bring it to the attention of the President,” Belmonte said.
Belmonte expressed confidence that peace negotiations can still be done within the remaining months of the Aquino administration.
“I wish it could. I think the atmosphere is such that it can still be done during this term of the president… He has other assistants, I do hope the festering problem will be solved and it can be solved during the last year in office,” he said.
Belmonte revealed that even before they went to The Hague for the arguments on the West Philippine Sea, the meeting with the communist leaders had been arranged by intermediaries.
“Even before I left the Philippines, we had some kind of a contact on my part through friends of Ruth Zumel. She herself is a friend of mine as her husband, Tony Zumel, was a very close friend of mine,” he said.
“Since he has died I have become a member of his foundation so it was through Ruth that I got word that they will also like to see me if I go to The Hague.
Belmonte said the communist delegation had 10 people. He said the meeting, which was in a Japanese restaurant, “was friendly.”
Deles earlier said that there must be no preconditions from the communist leadership before the two parties can resume negotiations.
Among the sticking issues in the resumption of the talks is the communist party’s demands that their detained “peace consultants” be released first. (MNS)