Defense chief Teodoro not keen on peace talks with NDFP, CPP
MANILA, Philippines — Newly-appointed Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. is not keen on resuming peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), and instead urged them to return to the fold and engage in legitimate discussions — by becoming a full-time political party.
In a press briefing hosted by the Presidential Communications Office on Thursday, Teodoro said that it had been his long-time position to oppose peace talks, noting that the current setup allows communist rebels to rejoin society and give up their arms.
Teodoro said this after several groups urged him to resume peace talks with NDFP so that the decades-long civil war waged by the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), could come to a close.
“My personal position is no, matagal ko nang posisyon ‘yan, no’ng araw pa, and I think that is the position of the security cluster as of this time. Dahil unang-una, bukas-loob naman ang gobyerno na magbalik sa fold ng law ang lahat ng mga dating kasapi ng CPP-NPA-NDF, nandyan na ang OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) route na handa na tulungan sila at i-rehabilitate,” he said.
(My personal position is no, this has been my position for a long time, and I think that is the position of the security cluster as of this time. Because first and foremost, the government has been open with past members of the CPP-NPA-NDFP returning to the fold, the OPAPP route is available to help them and rehabilitate.)
“Sa tingin ko ang peace talks ay — sa akin, sa version ng ating proseso demokratiko — pwede naman natin pag-usapan ‘yang mga issue na ‘yan sa tamang forum — ‘yan ay ang Kongreso, at sumanib sila sa legitimate political process,” he added.
(I think peace talks — for me, in the version of our democratic process — we can talk about these issues in the proper forum, which is Congress, where they would join legitimate political processes.)
According to Teodoro, Republic Act No. 1700, or the law banning membership to the CPP, has been disallowed — indicating that the group’s representatives can come out and join political processes.
He, however, clarified that front organizations are still illegal.
“Hindi naman bawal ang CPP eh, Republic Act No. 1700 has been repealed long ago. Pero ‘yong indirect at direct support sa armadong pakikibaka, ‘yan ang problema. So to me there is no such thing as — it’s an oxymoron, ‘yong legal front: walang legal na front. Ang front ay iligal,” he noted.
(The CPP is not banned, Republic Act No. 1700 has been repealed long ago. But indirect and direct support to the armed struggle that’s the problem. So to me there is no such thing as — it’s an oxymoron, a legal front: there is no legal front. Fronts are illegal.)
Makabayan bloc lawmakers in the House of Representatives, particularly ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro urged Teodoro last Tuesday to call for peace talks between the Philippine government and the NDFP.
Castro said this would allow the Department of National Defense (DND) to focus on external threats.
If CPP intends to become a legitimate political party, Teodoro said the group should vow to refrain from resorting to subversive activities.
“I mean, ideologically to me, it’s a farce, so what we intend to do is to convince those that are still continuing — whatever business they are continuing which is against the law — to come back and join the fold of law and join hands for national development,” he said.
“And as a political party they can register as a legitimate political party just as long as there is evidence that there is a total disavowal of resort to subversive means in order to gain political power. All of these theories, Marxism, et cetera, these are political theories and the end is to gain political power,” he added.
Teodoro, who served as defense secretary during the term of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was appointed defense chief anew by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last Monday.