By Roy Ramos
ZAMBOANGA CITY, the Philippines (AA) - The Philippines' communist party has responded to peace overtures repeatedly made by incoming President Rodrigo Duterte with the submission of a list of nominees for cabinet posts, which includes four women.
Duterte -- who won the May 9 presidential vote in a landslide -- has offered party members posts in the new government and offered to release all political prisoners if their leaders return from exile and sit down for peace negotiations.
In a news conference that finished early Thursday morning, Duterte announced that National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) spokesperson Fidel Agcaoili had handed him the list when they met last Tuesday.
NDFP is the political front of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), whose armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), has waged an insurgency since 1969.
“The Left has given an impressive list of nominees. I am inclined to give in. If we can talk smoothly when Jose Maria Sison [comes] home in July, I am willing to give all the leaders government posts,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Duterte as saying.
Sison -- the CPP founding chairman -- has been in exile in Netherlands since the failure of 1987 peace talks.
Duterte, however, refused to give the names of the nominees but said most come from the University of the Philippines.
In his first press conference since winning the election, Duterte announced he would consider offering the CPP posts in the Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Peace negotiations with the CPP-NDFP collapsed in 2004 after the communist withdrew from the negotiating table on account of the renewed inclusion of Sison and the NPA on the U.S. terrorist list.
In 2014, negotiations again failed because outgoing President Benigno Aquino III turned down the rebels' demand to release detained comrades -- accusing the rebels of insincerity in efforts to achieve a political settlement.
Since March 1969, the NPA has been waging one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies in the country, which -- according to the military -- has claimed more than 3,000 lives over the past eight years.
The military estimates that the number of NPA members has dropped from a peak of 26,000 in the 1980s to less than 4,000.
Duterte is set to assume office June 30.