The Philippine Star

PNP welcomes incoming government’s peace efforts

- By CECILLE SUERTE FELIPE – With Rhodina Villanueva

The Philippine National Police ( PNP) welcomes the efforts of incoming president Rodrigo Duterte to initiate peace talks with the rebels, since this would benefit police and soldiers who are at the frontlines.

PNP spokesman Chief Superinten­dent Wilben Mayor said both the PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippine­s (AFP) have given the lives of many policemen and soldiers in the pursuit of lasting peace.

“The PNP and the AFP have been in the frontline. We are looking for genuine and lasting peace. Police and soldiers want peace and if the incoming administra­tion offers peace to the other side, we will always welcome it,” Mayor said.

Duterte said he would open his administra­tion to members of the Communist Party of the Philippine­s–National Democratic Front- New People’s Army (CPP-NDF-NPA).

The incoming president even offered four Cabinet posts – Department of Labor and Employment ( DOLE), Department of Social Welfare and Developmen­t ( DSWD), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Department of Environmen­t and Natural Resources (DENR) – to members of the Leftist groups.

Representa­tives of the National Democratic Front of the Philippine­s (NDFP) have met with Duterte following his announceme­nt that he is ready to resume peace talks and appoint communist rebels to his Cabinet.

The NDFP represents the communist rebels in the peace negotiatio­ns with the government.

Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo said the meeting was scheduled tomorrow at the Matina Enclave Residences in Davao City. He said the NDFP was led by Fidel Agcaoili, one of its negotiator­s.

“The talks have started. They already had a courtesy call led by Fidel Agcaoili,” Panelo said

“Both sides promise to resume the talks,” he added.

Mayor s a id the PNP does not feel awkward with Duterte’s being open to dealing with communists and granting amnesty to political prisoners.

Although Duterte is planning to free about 500 political prisoners, Mayor said their release would still be subject to due process, depending on the nature of the crime committed by the specific political prisoners.

He said the Department of Justice will handle the matter.

When asked if it is safe to release political prisoners, Mayor said the issue would be based on trust of the parties involved.

“We should emphasize the trust that each other should have, and the agreement that should be followed,” he said in Filipino.

Apart from appealing to the incoming Duterte administra­tion for the general and unconditio­nal amnesty of all political prisoners, human rights defenders are also pushing for the immediate dismissal of allegedly trumped-up charges against the NDFP peace consultant­s.

Cristina Palabay, secretaryg­eneral of Karapatan, said the Tiamzon couple (Benito and Wilma) and Adelberto Silva are among the 18 peace consultant­s of the NDFP who are detained under the Aquino government.

On the other hand, Vicente Ladlad, Randall Echanis, Rafael Baylosis and Satur Ocampo are temporaril­y released on bail for the same recycled criminal charge. Jose Maria Sison, the NDFP’s chief political consultant, has been in exile in the Netherland­s since 1988.

“The Tiamzons are also facing fabricated charges of kidnapping with serious illegal detention at the Quezon City regional trial court, murder and frustrated murder in Laoang, Northern Samar and illegal possession of explosives in Toledo, Cebu,” Palabay said.

She added, “the continued detention of the NDFP peace consultant­s violates not only the GPH-NDFP agreement on safety and immunity guarantees, but is also an expression of how the Aquino regime turned against the peace negotiatio­n in derision.”

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