VP’s stand on communists ‘shared by so many’ – AFP chief
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Sara Duterte’s stand opposing the resumption of peace talks with communist rebels is a popular view that “even soldiers” would agree on, the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., himself acknowledged on Tuesday.
In a television interview on Tuesday, Brawner said: “I cannot blame the vice president for saying this. In fact, this opinion is shared by so many in our country, even soldiers. In our Viber group, there are similar sentiments because of the experience we’ve had with them. We have sat down with them to talk peace but what they were really doing was strengthening the New People’s Army.” Brawner was referring to the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and their umbrella organization, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Duterte on Monday warned that the rebels were “insincere” in achieving a peace settlement with the government, as she urged President Marcos to review his policy, including granting them amnesty. She also said the government’s joint statement with the NDFP was an “agreement with the devil.”
Brawner maintained: “We need all the avenues that we can grasp so that we can achieve lasting peace. We hope this [insurgency] will finally come to an end, after more than five decades and it [has] also claimed a lot of lives from both sides.”
The government and the NDFP announced last week that they had agreed “to come up with a framework that sets the priorities for the peace negotiation.”
The AFP chief said: “We believe that [their] joint statement is really moving toward lasting peace.”
‘Out of place’
Meanwhile, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro criticized Duterte’s remarks as being “anti-peace, advocating for war and intolerance of different beliefs.”
“The remarks made by the vice president are detrimental to the pursuit of genuine peace negotiations,” said the House deputy minority leader, adding that Duterte’s statements “reflect a lack of understanding of the complexities of the peace process and a disregard for the aspirations of the Filipino people for just and lasting peace.”
The vice president’s remarks are “out of place and should not be heeded,” Castro said.
Sixteen other lawmakers also pledged their support for the peace negotiations, calling it a “historic move” and “pivotal moment.”
“We acknowledge the diverse perspectives and ideologies within our ranks, yet we stand together in our commitment to the greater good of the Philippines. This unity in purpose reflects the strength of our democracy and the resilience of our nation,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.
The statement was issued by the following:
- Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr., Zamboanga City Rep. Manuel Jose Dalipe and Agusan del Norte Rep. Jose Aquino II of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats
- Rizal Rep. Michael John Duavit, Ilocos Sur Rep. Kristine Singson-Meehan and Quezon Rep. Mark Enverga of the Nationalist People’s Coalition
- Las Piñas City Rep. Camille Villar, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers and Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona of the Nacionalista Party
- Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Antipolo City Rep. Robbie Puno and Bataan Rep. Albert Garcia of the National Unity Party
- Ako Bicol Rep. Elizaldy Co, Bicol Saro Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan, and Barangay Health & Wellness Rep. Angelica Natasha Co of the Partylist Coalition Foundation Inc
- Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco of the Partido Navoteño.]