PNP welcomes Duterte peace offer to Reds
A DAY after presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte offered Cabinet positions to the Communist Party of the Philippines, and expressed openness to enter into talks with CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, the Philippine National Police likewise extended a hand of peace.
“Our policy is for the peace process. We always give peace a chance,” said PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor in a press briefing on Tuesday.
“Soldiers and police officers always give peace a chance because we’re always at the front lines. The first people who want peace are soldiers and the police,” Mayor pointed out.
Such an offering of peace from national security forces would come as a surprise to many, since the PNP, in previous occasions, have referred to the CPP’s armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), as “lawless elements.”
On April 16, NPA guerrillas abducted five policemen in Davao City. The policemen were later released on April 25, reportedly to Duterte.
On Monday, the military opted to remain mum on the matter, simply saying the discussion was “speculative.”
Mayor, in a press briefing last week, acknowledged that there was an existing warrant of arrest for Sison, who is currently on exile in The Netherlands.
When asked on Friday if Sison would be arrested if he were to come to the Philippines, Mayor explained that under “general” circumstances, Sison would be served the warrant, “but there are instances that even if you have a warrant [out for you], you will not be arrested, and that is if you’re part of the peace process” or are members of a peace panel.
“We don’t want to [preempt] plans of the coming administration, but based on experiences in the past, if you’re a member of the peace panel, you have a safe conduct pass… not to be arrested by law enforcement agencies. Operating units have a copy of the names [of the peace panel members], and that is respected by the government and the other party,” Mayor had explained.
The “past experience” Mayor was alluding to were previous peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, which saw into fruition the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) in 1995.
In the case of Sison, Mayor clarified “we still have to see” if he would be a member of a formal peace process with the Duterte administration. For now, “we can’t say [the CPP] have a safe conduct [pass]…but based on pronouncements of the presumptive President, we are geared toward a peace process,” Mayor said.
“We have a new administration… let us give them a chance on what they will do. Let us give them a chance to set guidelines and policies [first],” Mayor said.
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