‘Agreement with the devil’: VP Sara opposes peace talks with communist rebels

‘Agreement with the devil’: VP Sara opposes peace talks with communist rebels

Vice President Sara Duterte is against President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s move to grant amnesty to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), calling it "agreement with the devil."

Duterte issued the statement as the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) celebrated its fifth founding anniversary on Monday, December 5.

"Sumusuporta ako sa mga hakbang para itaguyod ang kapayapaan sa bansa (I support initiatives in sustaining peace in the country) because the fight against terrorists is deeply personal to me, as it is deeply personal to the families of countless Filipinos whose lives were forever upended because of the madness of terrorists. Pero hindi ang pagbibigay ng amnestiya ang daan sa kapayapaan (But granting amnesty is not the way to peace)," the Vice President said.

Duterte recalled the atrocities of the communist group back when she was mayor of Davao City.

"Taong 2017, personal kong nakitang nag-aagaw buhay sa ospital ang isang biktima ng pinasabog na improvised explosive device ng mga NPA sa Mandug, Davao City (In 2017, I personally saw a victim fighting for his life in a hospital after he was hit by an improvised explosive device planted by the NPA in Mandug, Davao City.) He was struggling and choking with his own blood. It was truly a painful sight," she said.

Duterte referred to the victim as Larry Buenafe, a fish vendor who was hit by a landmine. He eventually died.

"Hindi ko rin malilimutan ang paghingi ko ng tawad sa ina ng namatay na opisyal ng Philippine Army dahil sa nangyaring engkwentro sa Brgy. Paquibato, Davao City. Hindi ako nakapagsalita nang akoy tanungin kung ilang anak pa ba ang mamamatay dahil sa mga terorista sa Davao City. (I will also never forget my apology to the mother of the deceased Philippine Army officer because of the encounter in Brgy. Paquibato, Davao City. I was speechless when I was asked how many more children will die because of the terrorists in Davao City)," she added.

While she reiterated her support for achieving peace, Duterte said that granting amnesty to rebels is not the solution.

"Ang dapat nating gawin ay ipagpatuloy ang ating mga nasimulan sa NTF-ELCAC at mas palakasin pa ang mga ito. Panalo na tayo. Lumalaban na ang mga komunidad (What we need to do is to continue what we've started in NTF-ELCAC and strengthen them. We've already won. Communities are already fighting back)," she added.

Under Proclamation 403, Marcos granted amnesty to the members of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade who have committed crimes punishable under the Revised Penal Code and special penal laws, specifically those crimes committed in pursuit of their political beliefs, whether punishable under the Revised Penal Code or special penal laws.

The proclamation also grants amnesty to the former members of the CPP-NPA-NDF or their front organizations who have committed crimes punishable under the Revised Penal Code and Special Penal laws in furtherance of their political beliefs. 

Duterte said the joint communique between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front is questionable considering the history of the peace talks in the previous administration, including under her father, former President Rodrigo Duterte.

"Mr. President, the government’s statement with the NDFP in Oslo was an agreement with the devil. Napatunayan na natin sa kasaysayan na hindi sila seryoso at wala silang sinseridad sa usaping pangkapayapaan. Gagamitin nila itong peace negotiation sa pagtraydor sa pamahalaan at paglinlang sa taumbayan (The history will prove that they are not serious and not sincere in talking about peace. They will use this peace negotiation to betray the government and to trick the people). We appeal to your power to review these proclamations and agreements," she warned.

The Philippine government and the NDF recently agreed to a “principled and peaceful resolution of the armed conflict” after signing a joint statement in Oslo, Norway on November 23.

Duterte noted that the government can negotiate for peace and reconciliation and pursue meaningful development efforts in the Philippines without "capitulating to the enemies."

"Sana po ay isaalang-alang natin ang ating mga komunidad na naging pugad ng mga terorista sa mahabang panahon na ngayon ay lumalaban na at tumutulong sa pamahalaan (We should also consider the communities that were once made hideouts of terrorists for a long period and now trying to fight them and help the government). Let us honor the memory of those who died in the senseless and bloody attacks of the NPA-CPP-NDFP," she said.

Marcos, in a statement, said there is a need to amend and update the functions of the National Amnesty Commission (NAC) to cover the processing of the applications for amnesty under the new proclamations.

“There is hereby created the National Amnesty Commission, hereinafter referred to as the Commission, which shall be primarily tasked with receiving and processing applications for amnesty and determining whether the applicants are entitled to amnesty under Proclamation Nos. 403, 404, 405 and 406,” the EO read.

The commission created under EO 125 will continue to exist and will be dissolved upon completion of its mandate or as may be determined by the President, it added.

The Vice President’s statement has been criticized by progressive groups who are lobbying for the resumption of peace talks. RGL

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