Peace talks important, but OVP is not part of it – Robredo spokesman
MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Vice President (OVP) on Tuesday acknowledged the importance of returning to the peace negotiating table to find lasting resolutions to the decades-long communist insurgency in the country.
But, it also made clear, that it is not and would not get involved in “direct” peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Vice President Leni Robredo’s spokesperson, Atty. Barry Gutierrez, explained that even if OVP believes that peace negotiations are the way to resolve the insurgency problem, it must be tackled through formal avenues — of which OVP is not a part of.
“The Office of the Vice President is not engaged, and has no intention of engaging, in [the] direct peace negotiations with the NDF,” Gutierrez said in a statement.
“While peace talks are crucial in resolving this decades-long conflict, they must be conducted through official, formal channels that the OVP is not part of,” he added.
Rumors of Robredo taking part in peace negotiations with the communists spread over social media after online trolls posted fake information that attempted to red-tag the Vice President or link her to the communist movement. Robredo has called out the proliferation of such disinformation about her, urging netizens to report them.
This issue stemmed from a September statement of the NDFP, in which they said that they would talk to other factions in government, like Robredo’s political party, Liberal Party, and other possible constitutional successors, after peace negotiations between them and the Duterte administration collapsed.
On Friday, Senator Bong Go was sought for his reaction to NDFP’s plans. Go said such peace talks would have no bearing since the commander-in-chief of the Philippine military, who has been at war with the New People’s Army (NPA) for many years, is President Rodrigo Duterte.
NPA is the guerilla arm while the NDFP is the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
“Ang tanong d’yan kung ano ho ba ‘yong authority ng Office of the Vice President when it comes to the peace talks, kasi tandaan natin ang Presidente po ang Commander-in-chief ng Armed Forces of the Philippines,” said Go, a close ally of Duterte.
(The question there is what is the authority of the Office of the Vice President when it comes to the peace talks because we should remember that the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.)
“Kung makikipag-usap po sila d’on, eh hindi naman po sumunod ‘yong Armed Forces, eh ‘di giyera pa rin, what’s the use po ng peace talks?”
(If they would talk with them, but the Armed Forces would not follow, then the war would just continue, then what is the use of such peace talks?)
But Gutierrez urged Go to identify first whether the “news” that he reacted to is actually true and accurate — stressing that OVP’s position on the issue has not changed.
“This has been the consistent position of the OVP following the suspension of the GRP-NDF peace negotiations, and it has not changed, contrary to the hysterical claims in fake news posts being spread aggressively on social media,” Gutierrez said.
“Senator Bong Go would do well to ensure that next time, he first checks that any ‘news’ he is reacting to is true and accurate, and not based on some troll’s rantings on YouTube,” he added.
Peace talks between the government and the communist rebels appeared to be nearing a conclusion under Duterte’s tenure as he has associated himself with the Left on several occasions. The President even offered several Cabinet posts to supporters of the Left, but after a series of alleged ambuscades supposed carried out by NPA against the government soldiers despite a joint ceasefire declaration, the peace talks became an on-and-off affair.
Eventually, the government changed tack and embarked on localized peace negotiations to rid the country of what it called “communist terrorist groups” that include members of progressive organizations, which the government said are “front” groups of the CPP.
To date, peace talks between the Duterte administration and the communists have no clear future.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.