DND chief not keen on talks with CPP-NPA
Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro rejected on Thursday the possibility of reviving peace negotiations with communist rebels after these were called off in 2017 under the previous administration.
“My personal position is no. I have held that position for a long time and I think that is the position of the security cluster as of this time,” Teodoro said at a Palace briefing after the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) stated that it was open to the resumption of peace talks with the government.
But Teodoro admitted he has yet to consult President Marcos on the matter. Since he assumed office on June 30 last year, Mr. Marcos has yet to make known his stance on the resumption of peace talks with the Left. “I have to consult [him] regarding that because the only consultation I had with the President, first and foremost, [was on speeding up the reformation of the] MUP (military and uniformed personnel), of which I will receive total briefings in the coming days as to what progress has already been done,” Teodoro said.
At the same time, he urged the remaining communist rebels in the country to surrender and join the “legitimate political process” in pushing their advocacies.
“So what we intend to do is to convince those that are still continuing, whatever business they’re continuing, which is against the law, to come back and join the fold of [the] law and join hands for national development,” Teodoro 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 resorting to subversive means in order to gain political power,” he added.
Teodoro said he would “make sure” that the Department of National Defense (DND) would not engage in a Red-tagging spree, citing that “institution building is also building trust.”“But if one is really a member of an armed group and there is evidence, we [will] call a spade a spade,” he warned.
In 2021, the Anti-Terrorism Council designated the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), and its political wing, the NDFP, as terrorist organizations.
Duterte formally terminated the peace talks with the Left through Proclamation No. 360 in November 2017.
A year later, he created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) to address the armed conflict with communist guerillas.
According to Teodoro, the NTF-Elcac has helped a lot in dismantling the remaining communist fronts in the country. In his speeches, Mr. Marcos has acknowledged “the significant gains” made by the military in terms of internal security, urging troops “to recalibrate [their] focus more toward [the] external defense of our borders.”