Senator Chiz Escudero has expressed optimism that the peace talks between the government and the communist rebels would still continue in spite of President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent proclamation tagging the insurgents as terrorists.
Escudero said he hopes Duterte’s pronouncement was just another bump on the road towards peace.
“I hope this terror tag on (CPP-NPA) is just a hiccup or a negotiating tactic in the peace process. I am still optimistic that peace talks between the government and the CPP-NPA will soon resume and prosper under cooler situation,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
“I believe that peace negotiation should be exhausted to bring the armed conflict to a permanent and just closure,” the senator added.
On Tuesday, Malacañang announced that Duterte has signed a proclamation declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) as terrorist organizations.
Citing the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act, presidential spokesman Harry Roque warned that any person caught financing and supporting the CPP-NPA will be held liable under the law.
Escudero, former chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, lamented that the future might be bleak for any further peace talks following President Duterte’s declaration.
“And given the government policy, we don’t negotiate with terrorists,” Escudero said.
Escudero also called on the military and police to strictly uphold the Human Security Act (HSA), which provides safeguards to prevent human rights abuses, in conducting operations against the rebels.
“Any offense committed under HSA necessitates stronger evidentiary requirements. You can’t just file murder, illegal possession of firearms or any non-bailable offense. Government has to follow and adhere to the stringent requirements provided by the law, and these requirements carry corresponding penalties against violators,” Escudero said.
“Ang nakakalungkot dito, marami na namang maiipit na iba’t ibang lugar sa bansa at mga sibilyan dahil sa umpugan ng NPA at ng gobyerno. At magpapatuloy pa rin ang patayan ng Pilipino at kapwa Pilipino,” he said. /kga
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