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Ex-rebel group backs localize peace talks

MANILA -- As President Rodrigo Duterte signals the resumption of peace talks, a group of former rebels staged a picket rally in Manila on Friday, supporting the government's efforts to push for the localization of peace talks for a guaranteed positive result.

The coalition of former rebels, led by Ka Dario, said peace talks will progress if it is held in the country and not in some third-party country that recognizes "the belligerent National Democratic Front (NDF)" as a political entity.

"Nagtitipon kami upang igiit ang isang localize peace talks. Ito at hindi sa foreign country na kinikilala ang CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army) na isang political entity ang solusyon para matapos na ang limang dekadang panggugulo ng teroristang grupo (We gather here to call for localized peace talks. It is the solution and not a peace talk hosted by a third-party country that recognizes terrorist group CPP-NPA-NDF as a political entity that would solve the five decades of troubles by a terrorist group)," Ka Dario said.

"Kahit kailan hindi na exercise ng CPP-NDF ang kanyang pamumuno o soberanya sa kahit anong teritoryo ng Pilipinas sa kahit sinong miyembro ng lipunang Pilipino (The CPP-NDF never exercises rule or sovereignty in any territory of the Philippines and to any member of the Filipino community)," the anti-terrorists group leader added.

The group also condemned the CPP-NPA-NDF's criminal activities, such as the extortion, kangaroo court system, and its use of minors as combatants.

"Ang mga ito ay matagal nang kinondena ng Geneva Convention gaya ng paggamit ng landmines [na patuloy pa nilang ginagamit] (These were long condemned by the Geneva Convention, including the use of landmines [that these terrorists still do today])," he said.

President Duterte earlier ordered the country's law enforcement agencies to let National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili come home and resume the peace talks with the government.

Agcaoili, NDFP senior adviser Luis Jalandoni, and NDFP negotiating panel member Coni Ledesma called off plans to be Manila in November to conduct informal talks with the government due to security concerns.

Christine Cudis / PNA