The Philippine government said Wednesday, November 9 2011, that peace talks with communist rebels were deadlocked after it rejected their demand to free jailed senior comrades, tells AFP.
The talks were to have resumed in Norway last week, but were called off after the rebels insisted 13 “consultants” jailed for offenses ranging from murder to robbery were freed, government negotiator Alexander Padilla said to the news agency.
Padilla said the 13 were senior rebel leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines, who the guerrillas claimed were immune from arrest because they were involved in the talks.
An original list of 18 jailed communist figures was submitted in February this year, five of whom had since been released, according to Padilla.
But he said one of those freed was believed to have taken up arms again by joining the rebel fronts on the southern island of Mindanao, rather than negotiating.
The communists have waged a rebellion since 1969, carrying out attacks mostly in remote rural areas in the countryside, with the insurgency having claimed thousands of lives.
In the talks between the two sides in February, which were their first since 2004, they agreed to work towards a June 2012 deadline to forge a peace pact.
But Padilla said the talks could only now resume if the rebels dropped their demand and focused on other substantive issues, such as disarmament and economic integration for rebels.
Padilla said that the peace process was not yet defeated, only delayed.