GO: DUTERTE DIDN’T ORDER ANDAL TO LEAD BACKDOOR TALKS
MANILA — President Rodrigo R. Duterte did not order former Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) head Avelino ‘Billy’ Andal to lead the backdoor talks with Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, his former aide said on Tuesday.
Former Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go made this clarification following Andal’s earlier claim that the President had asked him to do back channel peace talks with communist rebels.
“Look, everybody is talking. So [I have] no instruction on Andal about back channeling,” Go quoted Duterte as saying in a phone interview.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also echoed Go’s statement, describing Andal’s claim as being tapped by the President to do back channel peace talks as “fake news.”
“The President says he never ordered him to do so,” Lorenzana said.
In a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo neither confirmed nor denied reports that Duterte has ordered Andal to lead the backdoor talks with Sison.
“I do not think so. He (Andal) is not involved in the negotiation process. Members of the panel would be (Labor) Secretary (Silvestre) Bello, he’s one of them,” Panelo said.
Panelo said the President has been open to peace negotiations “ever since”.
However, he said that the CPP, and its armed wing New People’s Army (NPA) should listen to President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to stop their illegal activities.
“The CPP-NPA, at this time, and for a change, should listen to the President. Enough of these ambuscades, enough of these extortion activities and we will sit down,” he said in a Palace briefing.
Both the US State Department and the European Union have tagged the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization. (PNA)
Photo from Philstar