Duterte urges gov’t to pursue peace with NPA
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said the government should review the previous agreements on the safe conduct passes granted to communist leaders taking part in the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), saying he heard it “from the distant past” that the Tiamzon couple was granted those passes.
Duterte, who said he was happy with the signing of the peace pact between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), expressed hope that peace should also be achieved with 40-year-old communist insurgency, but doing so would call for a respect of the previous agreement signed between the two parties.
Duterte, during his Sunday television program “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa,” said he heard from former Justice Secretary Silvestre Bello III that a written agreement had granted the Tiamzon couple, Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria, alleged chair and finance officer of the central committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines, safe conduct passes given to top Communist leaders, including NDFP peace panel chair Luis Jalandoni.
“I hope these things are sorted out at the earliest possible time. If government still wants to initiate talks, it has to have safe conduct passes to important persona,” he said, referring to Jalandoni and the Tiamzons.
But whether or not the government still wants to continue the talks remains a question, according to Duterte.
Talks between the government and the NDFP dimmed after the arrest of the Tiamzons and five others in southern Cebu on March 22. NDFP claimed that the Tiamzons were covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee (Jasig), which served as safe conduct pass to its top leadership actively participating in the peace talks. The arrest of the top ranking CPP leaders came only days away from the signing of the comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro, which effectively sealed the peace deal between the government and the MILF.
“We’re tired of war, it only reduces our humanity,” Duterte said, commenting on the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, between MILF and the government. He said a similar peace agreement should also be pursued between government and the NDFP, saying, “You may kill a person but you cannot kill an idea.”