Resumption of peace talks up to Duterte – DND chief

March 26, 2018 - 5:03 PM
NPA rebels resting under a tree along one of the towns near the Agusan del Norte border. INTERAKSYON FILE PHOTO

MANILA – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he will leave to President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision the matter of resuming peace talks with the New People’s Army (NPA).

He made this statement Monday when sought for comment regarding pronouncements made by 61 members of the House of Representatives urging the government to talk with the rebels again.

“I will have to defer to the decision of the President if he wants to pursue the talks but the Defense Department will not approach the peace talks,” Lorenzana stressed.

“Initially I am opposed to the peace talks but we will find out ano ba talaga gusto nila mangyari ngayon (what do they really want to happen) because we have been talking to them for the past several decades, nothing is happening. Now, why are they forcing the government, para bang nakikiawa sila na peace talks na naman (it seems they are begging for peace talks again) so I don’t know what is the purpose of this,” he further stressed.

In November last year, Duterte signed Proclamation 30, ordering the termination of all peace negotiations and meetings with the rebel group.

The termination was an offshoot of the rebel atrocities and other acts of violence against civilians, and security forces, the government said.

“Initially I do not agree [with] this peace talks but I have to talk to the President first and get his sense kasi mas marami naman siyang impormasyon sa akin na nanggagaling sa labas (because he has more information than I have from outside) so after I talk to him, it would be his decision to pursue the peace talks, then we have to abide but personally I am not in favor of it,” the DND chief stressed.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, called on the public to support the military and police in thwarting terroristic deeds of the NPA rebels, who are expected to celebrate their 49th founding year on March 29.

“Our forces will continue to be on a proactive stance against all threats of violence and will exert every effort to preserve the peace in every locality. Your soldiers and policemen cannot do it by themselves. We call on our people to help in the preservation of peace in their community by reporting any suspicious individuals or activities in their surroundings,” the AFP said in a statement Monday.

The military also called on the public to refrain from joining public gatherings linked with the celebration of the NPA’s anniversary or any activity that is associated with any terror group.