AFP chief says he cannot blame VP Duterte’s opinion on peace talks
MANILA, Philippines — The skepticism of Vice President Sara Duterte on the exploratory talks on the cessation of armed conflict between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is shared by other soldiers, according to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Romeo Brawner Jr.
Brawner also said he cannot blame Duterte for criticizing the government’s move due to its previous unsuccessful attempts.
However, the AFP chief expressed optimism that this time, the government could now sue for peace once and for all.
“Well, first of all, I cannot blame the Vice President for saying this. In fact, this opinion is shared by so many in our country, even soldiers … because of the experience that we’ve had with them,” Brawner said over CNN Philippines on Tuesday when asked about Duterte’s remarks.
VP Duterte earlier said the Oslo Agreement between the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and the NDFP “was an agreement with the devil” as it seeks to come up with a framework to restart the peace talks that stalled under the term of her father, former President Rodrigo Duterte.
She also lamented Marcos’ move to grant amnesty to former fighters of the New People’s Army (NPA).
While there is an amnesty for them, Brawner said that there will be no release of political prisoners or a ceasefire for the NPA.
Brawner admitted that the NPA used the previous peace talks as a chance to strengthen its forces, but he believes that this will not be the case this time.
“The government has been in talks with them for a few times, then what they did was, after the political prisoners were freed on the guise of talks, they would work towards strengthening the NPA,” Brawner said, partly in Filipino.
“But right now we believe that the [joint] statement is really moving towards lasting peace. I believe that this could lead to lasting peace,” he also said.
Brawner also stressed that the government needs to open “all the avenues” for lasting peace.
“I hope this will be over, [for] more than five decades, it claimed also a lot of lives from both sides, even innocent civilians, even from our end. This is personal for me because I lost a cousin, we lost classmates and colleagues,” he said.