By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Despite President Duterte’s announcement that he was mulling on meeting two communist leaders, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said the police will continue its pursuit operations against all rebels.
Speaking to reporters after the Senate committee deliberation on the DILG’s proposed budget for 2019 on Monday, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año clarified that the President’s pronouncement last weekend does not equate to a truce with communist rebels.
“Ang pag-uusap naman ay hindi ibig sabihin na may napag-kasunduan (Meeting them does not mean that they already agreed on something). Siguro gusto ring malaman ni Presidente kung bakit gusto siyang kausapin pero (Maybe the President also wants to know why the communists wanted to talk to him but) it doesn’t mean that the President will commit anything,” Año said.
Last Saturday, Duterte revealed that National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiators Fidel Agcaoili and Luis Jalandoni have relayed information about their intention to return to the country to talk to him.
The President said he was mulling over the proposed meeting.
Año stressed that Duterte’s cancellation of the peace talks with the communists still stands and that the Chief Executive himself will lead the national task force he has been eyeing to create “to end the armed local communist conflict.”
The DILG Chief added that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) have yet to comply with the conditions set by the President to revive the negotiations.
President Duterte scrapped peace talks in November last year over the supposed insincerity of rebels and their continued attacks despite the formal negotiations. He said he is willing to open the peace table anew, only if communist groups submit to his conditions, such as the holding of the negotiations here in the country.
“So tuloy pa rin tayo, wala tayong existing peace talks (we will still continue since we have no existing peace talks),” Año said.