NEWLY appointed Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said on Thursday, June 8, 2023, that he is not in favor of resuming the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) considering the openness of the government to accept those who are returning to the folds of the law.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, Teodoro, a second-term Defense secretary said he had been opposing peace talks for a very long time already and he has yet to consult Marcos on the matter.

“My personal position is no. Matagal ko nang posisyon ‘yan, no’ng araw pa, and I think that is the position of the security cluster as of this time. Dahil unang-una, bukas-loob naman ang gobyerno na magbalik sa fold ng law ang lahat ng mga dating kasapi ng CPP-NPA-NDF, nandyan na ang Opapp (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) route na handa na tulungan sila at i-rehabilitate,” he said.

(My personal position is no. That has been my position for a long time, even before. And I believe that is the position of the security cluster at this time. Because first and foremost, the government is open to welcoming back into the fold of the law all former members of the CPP-NPA-NDF, and the Opapp route is already available to assist and rehabilitate them.)

“At sa tingin ko, ang peace talks ay, sa akin, sa version ng ating proseso, demokratiko. Pwede naman nating pag-usapan iyong mga isyu na iyan sa tamang forum – iyan ay ang Kongreso – at sumanib sila sa legitimate political process. Hindi naman bawal ang CPP eh. Republic Act 1700 was repealed long ago. Pero iyong indirect at direct support sa armadong pakikibaka, iyan ang problema,” he added.

(And in my opinion, peace talks, in our process, are democratic. We can discuss those issues in the proper forum -- that is the Congress -- and they can join the legitimate political process. The CPP is not prohibited. Republic Act 1700 was repealed long ago. But the problem lies in the indirect and direct support for armed struggle.)

Teodoro said the government should instead strengthen its initiatives against insurgency through its existing agencies such as the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) and the Opapp.

On Tuesday, ACT Teachers party-list Representative France Castro urged Teodoro to call for the resumption of peace talks between the Philippine government and the NDFP to allow the DND to focus on addressing external threats.

Former President Rodrigo Duterte ordered on November 17 the termination of peace talks with the NDFP over continuous attacks on its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

In December of the same year, Duterte signed a proclamation tagging the CPP-NPA a terrorist organization under Republic Act No. 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.

In February, the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives filed a resolution calling for the revocation of government resolutions that designated the CPP-NPA-NDFP as terrorists.

Through House Resolution No. 756, members of the group also called for the resumption of peace talks between the government and the communist rebels. (SunStar Philippines)