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Aquino Names Panel for Talks With Rebels

June 26, 1986|From Times Wire Services

MANILA — President Corazon Aquino today named government negotiators for talks aimed at ending the 17-year-old Communist insurgency and reiterated that she would not give in to the rebels' demands for a coalition government.

At a news conference, Aquino identified her chief negotiators as Agriculture Minister Ramon Mitra and former Sen. Jose Diokno, chairman of the Presidential Commission on Human Rights.

She said she did not know when formal cease-fire talks with the Communist Party and its military arm, the New People's Army, would begin. Preliminary contacts have been made, she has said.

The rebels have named Satur Ocampo, a former journalist and a ranking Communist Party leader, as their chief negotiator.

Mitra is a former journalist and was a close associate of Aquino's assassinated husband, Benigno S. Aquino Jr., in the U.S.-style Senate former President Ferdinand E. Marcos abolished when he imposed martial law in 1972.

Diokno is a human rights activist known for his opposition to U.S. military bases. He is in charge of a special commission investigating military abuses during the Marcos era.

A senior U.S. official told reporters that Washington believed the two men were tough and realistic and that the United States was not worried the Philippines army might stand in the way of talks.

Asked whether she would go along with Communist demands for a coalition government, Aquino said she was sticking to a pledge made during her presidential campaign not to appoint any Communists to her government.

She also was asked about comments Thursday by Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile that it would take a miracle to make rebels of the New People's Army lay down their arms. (Story, Page 8.)

Aquino replied, "We both realize there are some people who will never cooperate with the government. But I would like to exhaust all our efforts to achieve peace and I think we are all agreed on this."

She also said there has been no change in her position that deposed President Marcos should remain in exile in Hawaii.

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