Gina Lopez willing to attend 5th round of peace talks with NDF – if confirmed

April 22, 2017 - 10:10 AM
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DENR Secretary Gina Lopez tallks to reporters Friday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MANILA – Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said she is willing to attend the fifth round of formal negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines next month as suggested by Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison with one caveat: if she is confirmed by the Commission on Appointments.

“Yeah, I’ll go,” she told journalists in an interview on Friday, then quickly added: “But if I don’t get confirmed, what will I do there?”

Sison earlier said “it would be fine if Gina attends the fifth round of talks” after the Environment secretary said she would like to work with the New People’s Army in carrying out her department’s work.

The CPP founder said Lopez’s sentiments fit into the discussions on social and economic reforms currently being tackled in the talks.

Lopez also said that, while interested in Sison’s invitation, “what I want to do is create models first … work with the NPA here and create a model where we get the people out of poverty in like six months to a year” and then present this in the discussions.

“No peace treaty will work with the NPA if we don’t address their basic concerns,” Lopez said.

Expanding on her earlier statement, Lopez said she would seek to “create peace zones where we show in no uncertain terms that it is by working together that we can create the world that they want to have,” as she acknowledged that “we can’t do anything if there’s fighting.”

She added she was confident “the military will work with us” and that she had already discussed her idea with President Rodrigo Duterte.

Lopez said she is thinking of piloting her idea in the Agusan provinces, in areas where two mining firms that passed her department’s recent audit operate.