President Rodrigo Duterte on February 6, 202, said he remains optimistic that his administration would be able to achieve a lasting peace with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) at a “much earlier” time.
Duterte made the statement, as he noticed that many members of the CPP’s armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), are surrendering and seeking reintegration into the society.
“With the rate that the NPAs are surrendering, mukhang I think we’d be able to realize peace much earlier,” the President said during the mass oath-taking of new presidential appointees held at Palace’s Rizal Hall.
To recall, Duterte on Jan. 23 led the distribution of government assistance packages to at least 263 former communist insurgents in San Isidro, Leyte.
Duterte, in his previous speech, hinted that he might give in to the demands of the communist movement in a bid to realize long-lasting peace in the country.
The President, however, did not elaborate on the communists’ specific favors for the possible revival of peace negotiations between the national government and the CPP’s political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF).
“The most important thing is to come up and comply with the promise to the rebels,” he said.
“Kaya sabi ko doon sa mga sundalo, bitawan na lang niyo. Umalis na lang kayo diyan. Ibigay na lang ninyo sa mga NPA. Lagyan na lang natin ng… Ah ayaw kong sabihin kasi may gusto akong ilagay (That’s why I told the soldiers, just let go. Leave the place and just give it to the NPA. We’ll just place a… I don’t want to mention it but I want to place something there),” Duterte added.
On Nov. 23, 2017, Duterte signed Proclamation 360 to formally scrap the peace negotiations with the NDF due to the series of attacks waged by the NPA rebels against the government forces and civilians.
The termination of peace talks was followed by the Dec. 5, 2017 signing of Proclamation 374, branding the CPP-NPA as terror group because of the crimes they allegedly committed “against the Filipino people, against humanity, and the law of the nations.”
Apart from the Philippines, the CPP-NPA has also been tagged as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
The peace talks between the national government and the NDF have been intermittent since 1986.
But in an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN on Jan. 10, Duterte said his government is ready for the possible resumption of talks with the communist party.
Duterte, during the television interview, announced that he had already formed a new government peace panel that would hold negotiations with NDF consultants for the crafting of a binding peace pact between the two parties.
The new state peace negotiators would replace the members of the national government’s now-defunct negotiating peace panel led by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello. (Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos, PNA)