Zarate, Casiño say doors on political settlement with CPP-NPA should remain open
MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and former congressman Teddy Casiño, who both denied links with the communist movement, said denouncing revolutionary groups as enemies of the state would “only shut the doors” on a political settlement.
During the resumption of the Senate investigation into alleged red-tagging by military officials, Casiño was asked if he would condemn recruited members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) and consider them as enemies.
In response, Casiño said doing so would block opportunities for a “healthier engagement.”
“They (CPP-NPA) are revolutionary groups. We may not agree with their program, we may not agree with the way they are pushing for their agenda but ang [the] attitude natin sa kanila [that we have towards them] is i-engage because we recognize that these revolutionary [organizations]…their struggles are rooted in very legitimate and historical grievances of the people,” the former congressman said.
“To simply denounce them as enemies, it closes the door for a healthier engagement lalo na po kami na [especially because] we are engaged in the many issues that they are also pushing for land reform, etcetera. We don’t consider them as enemies. We consider them as fellow Filipinos na dapat kausapin [that we should engage with],” he added.
Zarate shared the same view as Casiño, who also served as Bayan Muna representative.
“Yung mga taong ang option nila ay mag-armas, mahirap po na i-kondena sila outright dahil naniniwala ako—my personal belief—na merong mga social reasons na kadahilanan, historical” Zarate said.
(Those people who chose to join the armed struggle…it’s hard to condemn them outright because I believe—this is my personal belief—is that there are social and historical reasons.)
“Outright condemning [them] because they took an option to exercise the right na labananan yung tingin nila ay masama sa ating lipunan, magreresulta lang ito ng outright denial din na may mga roots ang armed conflict sa ating bansa. Condemning them will only shut the doors for potential political settlement,” he added.
(Outright condemning [them] because they took an option to exercise the right to fight what they think is bad for the society, will result in outright denial that there are roots of the armed conflict in our country. Condemning them will only shut the doors on a potential political settlement.)
According to Zarate, it is better to engage with these revolutionary groups to end more than five decades-old insurgencies in the country.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who led the hearing as chair of the Senate defense panel, said he could not reconcile views that NPA members should not be considered enemies of the state.
Meanwhile, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Director General Alex Paul Monteagudo insisted that the CPP-NPA is “declared as a terrorist organization by other countries.”
“By not denouncing this, you are tolerating the terrorist organization. By not denouncing, you are allowing them to recruit more of our children,” he told the Senate panel.
“If our gentlemen who support these terrorist groups truly believe the cause, why do you allow the recruitment of children of other parents? If the cause is so noble, why not send your own children?” he added.
The CPP, however, has previously asserted that the United Nations has not labeled them and the NPA as terrorist organizations. [ac]
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