MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday raised the possibility that President Rodrigo Duterte might once again open the door to another resumption of peace dialogue with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in the future.
This, even after Duterte rejected last month the idea of a possible revival of peace negotiations with the communist movement’s political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF).
In a virtual presser held at Palace’s press briefing room, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that for now, the government is still not bent on reviving the talks with NDF leaders.
“Wala po muna sabi ni Presidente sa ngayon. Pero baka naman pwedeng magbago pa rin iyan (The President said there will be no peace talks for now. But he might change his mind),” Roque said.
Roque also made the remarks a day after Duterte certified as urgent a bill that gives the government’s anti-terrorism policies more teeth to “adequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare.”
The Senate in February passed on third and final reading Senate Bill 1038 or the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. The House of Representatives’ two committees approved their version of the measure, which is akin to Senate version, on May 29.
Under the bill, persons who voluntarily and knowingly join any terrorist organization shall suffer imprisonment of 12 years.
The CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), have been branded as a terror organization by the Philippines, the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
In February this year, Duterte was still hopeful that his administration would be able to achieve lasting peace with the communist insurgents at a “much earlier” time.
However, communist rebels’ ceaseless attacks against government troops prompted Duterte to say on April 27 that he would never be ready for another round of peace negotiations with NDF because the NPA shows “no respect” for his administration and men in uniform.
On May 4, Duterte also said there is “no longer hope for further talks” with the CPP led by Jose Maria Sison who has been on self-exile in the Netherlands since 1987.
Duterte on May 11 also offered PHP2 million each to anyone who can either capture or kill the top commanders of the NPA. (PNA)