Communist rebels talk peace with Philippine government

Communist rebels talk peace with Philippine government

Peace talks between communist rebels and the Philippine government are expected to wrap up in Rome on Wednesday. The two

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

Peace talks between communist rebels and the Philippine government are expected to wrap up in Rome on Wednesday. The two sides are aiming to extend August’s ceasefire and discuss economic and political reforms that will enable a permanent peace accord.

The military says at least 30,000 have been killed in the conflict since 1968. Tensions have calmed in recent years and the rebels have lost considerable strength – current estimates put their fighting force at around 4,000, down from 26,000 in the 1980s.

While President Rodrigo Duterte released 18 rebel leaders in August, the group is demanding that its remaining 392 members still behind bars also be set free before settling on a permanent ceasefire. Duterte is on record as stating these prisoners are his “aces” – he’s unlikely to release them without gaining considerable concessions.

Complicating matters, eight soldiers and a rebel fighter were killed during an hour-long gunfight on Saturday.

Rebels have expressed scepticism at achieving peace anytime soon and are likely working towards a deadline of 2022, before the left-leaning Duterte leaves office.