SAN FERNANDO CITY, Dec. 10 -- National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said President Rodrigo Duterte is considering peace talks with the communist rebels.
Esperon gave the statement on Tuesday during the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC1) 4th Quarter Meeting held in San Juan town where he sat as the presiding officer.
"The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People's Army (NPA), and the National Democratic Front (NDF) are now asking for a presumption of peace talks," he said.
Esperon, also the vice chairperson of the NTF-ELCAC and Cabinet Officer for Regional Development for Region 1 (CORD1), said the NDF, in particular, is asking for a time with the President if and when he visits Vietnam within the year.
"They now feel that we are all over, meaning the NTF-ELCAC of which the chairman is the President himself who is making their life miserable not only for their fighting units, as well as for their other organizations," said Esperon, adding that there has been a noticeable decrease in their capabilities as far as their communist rebel groups are concerned.
He added, "What makes it more difficult for them is their operating units have opted to put down their arms and take advantage of one of our programs which is the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP)."
Esperon, however, stressed that the number one condition in the presumption of the talks is that it must be done in the Philippines and not anywhere outside the county.
"We do not know yet when the talks will take place," said Esperon.
Meanwhile, he said even if there is an impending possibility, Esperon said Duterte still strongly encourages continuity of all the activities of the task force.
"The President said we must proceed without delay and more fervor about what we are doing in the NTF-ELCAC," the national security adviser said.
The year-end meeting was attended by provincial governors and other local chief executives, heads of regional line agencies, and heads or representatives of the 12 clusters of the regional task force in Region 1. (JCR/JND/PIA La Union)