Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza

Event Press Briefing
Location Malacañang Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building

ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4: Magandang hapon Malacañang Press Corps, we now have Secretary Jesus Dureza.

SEC. DUREZA: Mas maganda ka pa kaysa hapon… Good afternoon everyone, I’m making an announcement in relation to the talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF. But before I engage with the members of media to Q and A, in order to be very, very precise, I’d like to read a statement that I personally prepared. And it goes this way:

In our common effort to make sure that we achieve a conducive and enabling environment for peace, President Rodrigo Duterte instructed us to engage our bigger peace table – the general public, as well as other sectors in government – as we work to negotiate peace with the Communist rebels. Consequently, the initial timeline that our backchannel team had worked on with their counterparts – the CPP-NPA-NDF, across the table had to be necessarily adjusted.

Our peace efforts to succeed should have good support from the general public, hence, it is necessary that all efforts be exerted to inform first and engage them in the same way as the government engages the rebels in addressing the root causes of conflict. The almost 50 years of intermittent and often times disrupted peace negotiations with the Communist rebels across several presidencies need a close study for lessons to learn from; to ensure that our last chance to put a dignified closure to the armed rebellion will not be squandered away.

The government peace panel in cooperation with the private sector will continue on its effort to engage those who earnestly seek peace across the peace table. But it is equally important that the stakeholders on the ground must also be equally engaged through consultations to ensure that all those consensus points and agreements forged in the negotiations table have palpable support from them.

We are now at the cusp of some major breakthroughs in the peacetalks, hence, the urgent need now to take deliberate steps to ensure that we do not falter. Just and sustainable and lasting peace will happen only when our people understand and support these efforts.

End of statement. In other words, it means the scheduled supposed resumption of talks that have been earlier subject of the discussions by our backchannel will not happen as originally set and as originally announced in the media.

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: Good afternoon, sir. So sir, kailan ba supposedly iyong sinet (set) na peacetalks? Kasi there was this report that—si Joma Sison, he mentioned that there will be a ceasefire starting June 21 and that the resumption will be on June 28. So, kailan ba supposedly?

SEC. DUREZA: Hindi na nga mangyari, as I have already—that’s the context…

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: But that was the original? That was the original…

SEC. DUREZA: Hindi ba sinabi ko, that was the product of the backchannel work that has been going on. There had already been several backchannel meetings when the President instructed us to resume peace negotiations. We took heed of the President’s guidance that we should work. So, we composed our backchannel team headed by members of the panel, of course under the direct supervision of Secretary Bebot Bello, the Chairman of the peace panel of the government.

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: So, when is the soonest and why did you decide not to push through with the supposed original schedule?

SEC. DUREZA: Well as you can get from my statement, there is a need to engage the public all the more and get their support before we are able to work out certain agreements with the leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines. In the same manner, as you noticed, we had to engage very clearly and very aggressively with the Bangsamoro stakeholders when we came up with the new version of the BBL. So hindi ho puwede na we only engage the other table as a I always say, which is the rebel group on the other side of the table at i-ignore natin iyong bigger table which is the public. Because even if you sign the agreements nga at hindi suportado ng publiko, eh walang mangyayari din. And we would like to take full advantage of this last opportunity that we don’t squander it.

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: So sir, how are you going to determine that the public or the people will support—?

SEC. DUREZA: We will go and listen to the public as we did. Remember iyong Senado at kami rin, ang panel, we went around and met with the different stakeholders. We have already gone about 50-almost years across several presidencies, at kailangan may titingnan siguro tayo uli ‘di ba, bakit naman nadi-disrupt at hindi natutuloy, eh very earnest naman ang effort ng gobyerno at ng kabila ha, hindi lang ang gobyerno; at ng kabila na hahanap ng patutunguhan ang ating negotiation.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Hi sir, good afternoon. Anong klase pong engagement iyong gagawin ng gobyerno sa publiko para malaman kung ano iyong pulso ng mamamayan para sa peacetalks?

SEC. DUREZA: Magkokonsulta kami – that means we’ll go the rounds and as we did with the Bangsamoro as you know. Hindi ho ba, you have to meet up with the different sectors, meet up with the stakeholders, may mga grupo rin… So we’d like to hear from them, and also maybe tell them already, ano ba ang gusto ng panel ng Communist Party of the Philippines at ano rin ang posisyon ng gobyerno. At diyan malalaman natin, dahil kailangan natin kasi suporta eh; we cannot have a peace agreement and have a vacuum support from the public.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Sir, one follow-up. Ano naman po iyong magiging papel ng private sector dahil sabi ninyo, hihilingin ninyo rin iyong opinyon ng private sector?

SEC. DUREZA: Alam mo napakalakas ang suporta at ng effect noong mga NGOs natin on the ground. As you know, there are so many NGOs – Non-Government Organizations – not only them, but also the others. We’d like also to consult the other sectors of government – LGUs, maybe peace and order councils all over… Kasi mechanism ito hindi lamang ho para sa mga Communist Party of the Philippines and the other group, para sa lahat ho.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Magdadalawang taon na iyong administrasyon, nakailang round na po ng talks, bakit ngayon lang po nagpasya iyong administrasyon na ikonsulta iyong publiko at ang private sector?

SEC. DUREZA: Hindi, kinokonsulta natin; pero sa tingin naman namin at ng gobyerno natin, na kailangan pa more engagement dahil ang dami na kasing nangyari. We reached already the fourth round of talks remember, at nakansela iyong fifth round sana dahil may mga incidents on the ground. Hindi ba may pang-aatake pa?

And then of course, the President had very clear guidance – kung magre-resume tayo ng talks, kailangan ganito, ganito… Hindi naman pre-condition niya, pero wish niya iyon – na kung magkakaroon tayo ng more engagement with the Communist Party of the Philippines; sabi niya, “Huwag na muna iyong revolutionary tax,” hindi ba sinabi niya? Very clear, huwag mang-atake ng mga hindi nagbibigay na mga kumpanya.

So, we’d like to see kasi ang sabi niya last chance na ito. So I think the decision now is, let’s not squander this last chance. Let’s do everything possible and in due time, we’ll be able to already make a certain definitive decisions. Dahil alam naman natin, kailangan i-address natin iyong root cause ng conflict eh, hindi puwedeng giyera lang ito eh, pero dapat makukuha rin natin iyong suporta ng publiko.

Remember in the BBL you noticed, bakit malakas iyong takbo? At even Congress went ahead to pass the diff—although different versions sila – dahil malaki ang nakikita naming suporta ng publiko to really pass the BBL.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, good afternoon. Sir, was the decision to reschedule the supposed resumption of peacetalks already informed or agreed upon by both—by the two parties?

SEC. DUREZA: Backchannel pa nga lang iyon eh, remember. And then ang formal resumption will have to be done, but government had to make the final call on whether we proceed with the resumption. Eh mukhang may kulang pa yata na gagawin pa in the negotiations – at hindi natin puwedeng madaliin hindi ho ba? Kasi parang sabi nga ng Pangulo last chance na ito, tapos ngayon we might also have the same pitfalls of the past.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: So for now, as we speak sir, there is no new tentative schedule for the resumption and we will await the result whatever will be of the public consultation whether we go or not—or how will we go by the resumption of the peacetalks?

SEC. DUREZA: Opo. At saka hindi lang ang publiko ang i-engage namin, we will continue engaging with the other side. We are not going to close our doors to them. In fact, in the same manner that we engaged the panel of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the CPP-NPA-NDF group, we will also as equally engage the public.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Follow up iyong kay Rose. Kasi all eyes and ears are already on the June 28 and even Joma Sison is looking forward already with June 28. I’m just wondering what’s the sudden… parang pag… wait, wait, balik tayo sa public consultation. Was there any negative input or info from the ground to as not yet to continue with the peacetalks?

SEC. DUREZA: Hindi naman, dahil nakita mo naman hindi nag-a-announce ang gobyerno about the resumption. Did you notice very clearly, we never even made those announcements? Always our position was, hintay kayo dahil wala pang final decision ang gobyerno. So during a meeting with the President last night, and after closed inputs from those who are with us, the President said, “Let’s reset.” Give us time to work some more, so that whatever agreement we’ll be able to sign eventually, will be able to be implementable.

Remember ang nangyari sa BBL natin, iyong unang BBL, hindi nga pinasa ng Kongreso dahil may mga problema. Eh gusto niya ngayon siguraduhin talaga na kung itutuloy natin iyan… na parang there’s a very good chance that it will work.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/INQUIRER: Sir, clarify lang. So the government pulled out of the talks?

SEC. DUREZA: No, we never pulled out. The backchannel happened because it is to find out how we can move it forward, but the final decision have not been made, by the way, on a formal resumption. So iyong gamit mo na ‘pulled out’ ho, parang sa iyo lang iyan. Hindi naman, we have to come up with the decision because there’s still a need for further work on the side of government.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/INQUIRER: So the government decided na it’s not yet time to resume the peacetalks, sir?

SEC. DUREZA: Correct – at this time. At this time…

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/INQUIRER: And, were there sets of conditions that the other side gave that made the government come up with this decision, sir?

SEC. DUREZA: Hindi naman, assessment lang iyan on the government side based on inputs coming from all the sectors.

Q: What information do you still need sir? Because you know—I mean this talks have been going on for so many years, so ano pang kailangan?

SEC. DUREZA: Oo nga, ang kailangan nating gawing pag-aralan natin bakit many years na nga eh bakit hanggang ngayon wala pang nangyayari? Nag-collapse, may mga incidents pa na parang—the so called enabling environment that will be conducive to continuation of peace negotiations and coming up with the final peace agreement. Apparently hindi pa iyan very apparent.

Q: Last na lang sir. So how did the other side take this decision sir after, of course, you informed them?

SEC. DUREZA: Yes of course Secretary Bebot Bello called the chairman, his counterpart Fidel Agcaoili this morning to inform him of that decision. And I called also the Norwegian government, the facilitator who was in Oslo, this morning in order to also relay the decision and of course the Norwegian government said that, ‘You know Jess, are we already stopping?’ I said there’s no stopping in our work for peace, you know. It is a work piece by piece as they say. And nobody should—everybody should stay in the course as we always say. So I’m sure na mayroon ding reaksiyon ang kabila but Secretary Bebot Bello was able to relay to the other side. You know the decision was arrived at earlier but we have to be very sure that before we make this announcement this afternoon na na-i-relay na natin directly sa kanila ang desisyon at this time.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Hi sir, how are you doing? Sa the NDF muna. So you said that maybe it’s not the right time yet to push through with the peace talks because—

SEC. DUREZA: Anytime is a good time.

JOSEPH/GMA7: But not now, right?

SEC. DUREZA: Now, pina-reset natin iyong planong resumption na inayos sana ng ating backchannel team. Alam mo na iyong backchannel, it should be something quietly done and that the outcome should be towards already a resumption. Remember na-cancel iyong talks ha.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Yes sir.

SEC. DUREZA: Wala tayo. Wala na tayong talks ongoing. Kaya nga nagre-resume lang iyong backchannel, informal. Dahil nga there’s a need of course to really engage the Communist Party of the Philippines, their representatives across the negotiations table.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Correct. So when we made that decision yesterday to reset, what were the factors? You are saying public support may not be enough. How did this manifest?

SEC. DUREZA: Hindi. Feeling lang namin na kailangan pa talaga na i-engage ang publiko and get their support eh.

JOSEPH/GMA7: That sounds little dig to me sir.

SEC. DUREZA: Well, it’s up to you but you know we, government, those who are doing this some other factors to consider—

JOSEPH/GMA7: How did this manifest sir? Iyong public—hindi naman non-support but iyong maybe lukewarm attitude of the public. How does this manifest, from your perspective?

SEC. DUREZA: I don’t want to disclose all of those details. Be satisfied with the fact that a decision has been arrived that and the decision was arrived at, of course with the President bear with us and the panel.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Okay. Sir, just one last question. Yesterday, I think in the joint command conference also with the AFP and the PNP. A concern was raised that the NDF or the Communist Party is using the period of the peacetalks to regroup. Is that one of those factors that you maybe probably want to see more confidence building actions on the side of the CPP?

SEC. DUREZA: No, I don’t want to disclose what have been discussed behind close door.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Okay. But do you want to see more actions from the NDF?

SEC. DUREZA: We’d like to see that whenever we come up with the agreements that kung may mga problema man hindi masyadong malaki. At that, we get the support of the public. Importante ang support ng publiko ha.

HANNAH SANCHO/DZAR: Hi sir, good afternoon. Sir, kay Joma Sison lang sir, kasi sabi ni Sec., sa inyo daw dapat i-address iyong question about kay Joma Sison. Sinabi ni Pangulong Duterte na handa siyang i-shoulder ang pag-uwi ni Joma Sison dito sa Pilipinas. Ano po iyong status ng pag-uwi po ng founder ng CPP sa Pilipinas?

SEC. DUREZA: Tuloy pa iyong possibility na kung gusto niyang umuwi, susuportahan siya ng ating Pangulo, hindi lang sa expenses but to guarantee his safety and then sabi nga ng Pangulo, hindi ba recently, kapag umuwi siya rito and then hindi natuloy iyong peace talks, may problema, I will guarantee that I will even see to it that he returns back.

HANNAH/DZAR: Sir, iyong pag-iikot po na plano ninyo to check iyong feedback ng taong bayan. How long po natin gagawin ito at may na-identify ba tayong areas—

SEC. DUREZA: We will let you know. We have a general plan of doing meetings and finding out dahil event natin kasi itong—may mga draft agreements kasi silang sinubmit in the backchannel at mayroon rin tayong government draft. Eh kailangan i-vet natin iyan doon sa mga stakeholders natin din, in order that we find out already kung ano ba talaga ang puwedeng gawin natin together, you know—

HANNAH/DZAR: Sir, iyong areas ba na pupuntahan natin sir, ito ba iyong mga common areas kung saan nakakapag-recruit iyong NPA or—

SEC. DUREZA: First of all, I think engaging the bigger public will be the priority. In other words ano iyong mga areas na for example afflicted by conflict. At ang mga tao doon may hindi ambivalent eh, may paninindigan, galit ba o puwede ba nating i-explain or puwede bang—to get their support. You know, remember that this is a very long drawn situation of un-peace in the land. At hindi lang dahil nag-usap na kami ng both sides at hindi kasali ang publiko, done na. The President would like to see that iyong gagawin nating mga agreements eh may suporta galing sa publiko. And the assessment will be done by the government as a whole and by the panel and of course with the guidance of the President.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL. STAR: Good afternoon sir.


TINA/PHIL. STAR: Sir does this mean iyong backchannel talks will go beyond the 60-day deadline imposed by the President?

SEC. DUREZA: Well, nag-decide ang Pangulo na i-reset muna, ibig sabihin iyong deadline na iyan done na iyan at puwede pang ipagpatuloy iyong effort kaya nga magkokonsultasyon pa, hindi ba? At remember iyong hindi naman na nag-announce lang tayo ngayon pagkatapos wala na. Mayroon pa tayong pinapadalang representative ng ating panel doon. Maybe they will be leaving tomorrow to personally engage the other side and explain to them the situation.

TINA/PHIL. STAR: Sir iyon po bang biggest reservations, did it come from the AFP and the PNP, considering that this has been a long ground battle, marami namang—

SEC. DUREZA: Everybody inputted their output to this decision; common decision arrived at, of course, under the directive of the President. Alam mo, careful ang ating Pangulo eh, especially in addressing long-drawn un-peace in the land. Hindi ba sinasabi niya we have to address – sa Bangsamoro – sabi niya, we have to address this historical injustice. Eh dito sa CPP-NPA hindi naman puwedeng giyerahin at giyerahin lang, kailangang ma-address din natin. Mayroon din silang paninindigan. And so this is a long… not easy road to peace but we have to take that road.

TINA/PHIL. STAR: So sir the biggest consideration was the—probably the concerns raised by the uniformed personnel regarding the peacetalks?

SEC. DUREZA: No, they were all inputted. May inputs din sila, may sarili rin silang inputs. Some sectors had also inputted their positions to arrive at this decision for the moment na huwag muna ituloy ang talks.

TINA/PHIL. STAR: Sir, last one for me. So does this mean tuloy ang operations ng PNP and AFP against the NPA rebels on the ground?

SEC. DUREZA: Tuloy naman dahil kung tuloy iyong NPA, tuloy din ang ating security forces.

TINA/PHIL. STAR: And iyong mga implementation ng warrants of arrest eh tuloy sa mga may standing—

SEC. DUREZA: Well, right now because of the cancellation of the talks, the warrants of arrest were done on the basis – the suspension of the warrants of arrest – was addressed because of they are being needed in the negotiations. So of course the necessary consequence is that in the meantime wala pa tayong ano diyan—iyong bail, naano kasi ng Court na, approved na iyong bail nila eh. So we’ll see how it goes.

CECILLE LARDIZABAL/CNN PHILS.: Sir, good afternoon. Aside from engaging the public, what would really convince the government to go back to the negotiating table?

SEC. DUREZA: When we see an enabling environment and it is a very general statement, an enabling environment that is conducive to resumption and then going to a final peace agreement, then we will do everything in order to push it forward.

CECILLE/CNN PHILS.:  Sir, what exactly is an enabling environment?

SEC. DUREZA: Hindi nga enabling, hindi nga conducive ang environment. Kaya nga kung conducive pa la eh hindi hindi na natin kinancel iyong scheduled talks.

Q: Ano iyong conducive?

SEC. DUREZA: Conducive, iyong tingin natin na all the factors converge towards already bringing about iyong gusto nating mangyari.

Q: (unclear).

SEC. DUREZA: Matagal na nating pag-usapan iyan.

CECILLE/CNN PHILS.:  Sir, mayroon bang mga demands na hinihingi na hindi nasusunod? Mayroon bang ganoon sir?

SEC. DUREZA: Wala naman, wala. Sa backchannel natin wala namang mga demand. They just expressed their position on certain major issues like on the agenda item is for example the proposed agreement on socio and economic reforms, iyong CASER. Mayroon ding agenda item on political and constitutional reforms. And then the agenda item at the end game would be end of hostilities and disposition of forces. So napag-usapan na iyong—may posisyon na sila doon sa CASER at may government position na rin tayo. So ang gusto nilang ilahad diyan sa publiko, hindi dapat ang panel lang ang magdedesisyon, okay na iyan.

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Secretary Dureza, good afternoon po.

SEC. DUREZA: Hi sir.

ALVIN/RADYO PILIPINAS: Sir, paano ninyo ire-rate iyong sincerity as of now ng kabilang kampo?

SEC. DUREZA: Mahirap kasing i-rate mo iyong sincerity eh, very subjective iyan, hindi ba? Like ikaw tinatanong mo iyong girlfriend mo, are you sincere? Hindi naman niya kailangan i-explain pa sa iyo ang sincerity niya, makikita mo naman eh.

ALVIN/RADYO PILIPINAS: Pero nakikita ninyo ba iyong sincerity?

SEC. DUREZA: Nandiyan, mayroon sincerity of course but there are other factors that we have to consider. Mahirap—Sabihin mong makipag-usap kami tapos feeling namin walang sincerity, eh di huwag na tayong mag-usap. Pero tuloy ang usapan eh, nare-reset lang natin iyong scheduled resumption, factors.

ALVIN/RADYO PILIPINAS: At saka sir, ano ba iyong enabling environment?

SEC. DUREZA: Mahaba na istorya iyan, iyong enabling pero something that will convince government na puwedeng ituloy-tuloy na.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, very short clarifications.

SEC. DUREZA: Sige Joseph, oo.

JOSEPH/GMA7: So sir may sinabi kayo na may mga agenda items that the NDF have put forward—has put forward—

SEC. DUREZA: Oo nga. Kanilang posisyon.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Correct.

SEC. DUREZA: Kasi may government position din.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Alright sir so iyon pong—we are at the stage now whether that we are looking into whether this are acceptable on our side, that’s why we need to consult the public that’s—


JOSEPH/GMA7: And when we resolve this issue, that’s when you know, that’s going to be an enabling environment, correct?

SEC. DUREZA: Well, among others.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Okay. Sige sir, clear. Thank you.

ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4: Thank you, Malacañang Press Corps. Thank you Secretary—

SEC. DUREZA: Salamat. Thank you very much ha. Thank you.

ROCKY/PTV4: Thank you, Secretary Jesus Dureza. Back to our main studio sa Radyo Pilipinas and People’s Television Network.


Source: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau-Data Processing Center)