THERE was "no conflict" between President Rodrigo Duterte and three left-leaning Cabinet members even after he decided to scrap the peace negotiations with the communists, Malacañang said on Wednesday, July 26.
In a chance interview with Palace reporters, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the President still has the “full trust” in Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Agriculture Secretary Rafael Mariano, and National Anti-Poverty Commission Secretary Liza Maza.
Abella said the three officials, who were endorsed to the Cabinet by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, are different from the communists’ armed wing New People’s Army (NPA) that continue to launch offensive attacks against the government security forces.
“The Cabinet members are different from the negotiations. These are two different things. They are Leftist but they’re addressing certain [issues in the country]. They’re head of agencies. Up to this stage, as far as I can see, there is no conflict. They’re there [in their respective agencies],” Abella said.
“And as long as they’re there, we can assume that he still [has] his full trust. That is the assumption because no action has been taken against them, as far as I know. The NPA is different from the Cabinet members. They’re not members of the NPA, as far as we can see. What’s important is they’re doing their job in their agencies and their departments,” he added.
Abella’s statement came after the President maintained his stance to no longer continue the peace dialogue with the communists.
The government peace panel and the communist leaders were initially set to hold back-channel talks by the end of July and resume the fifth round of talks in August.
The talks were called off after four of Duterte's security men sustained injuries in an encounter with NPA rebels in Cotabato last July 19.
Duterte had yielded too much for the communist group as he still expressed openness to resume negotiations with the communists prior to the NPA's attack against members of the Presidential Security Group.
He, however, withdrew his plan, saying the NPA rebels already killed many of the soldiers and policemen.
The President had said that there will be "no more talks" with the communist party and that the troops are ready to fight them even for "another 50 years."
On Monday, Duterte said the security forces' next target after they are able to retake war-torn Marawi City, which is still under siege by Maute terrorist group.
"No more talks. If they want war, just wait until Marawi. We can better deal with you," he said. (SunStar Philippines)