Duterte to meet three left-leaning Cabinet members on Monday
President Rodrigo Duterte is set to meet next week the three left-leaning Cabinet officials who are expected to encourage him to resume peace talks with the communist rebels.
In a press briefing in Malacanang on Thursday, National Anti-Poverty Commission Secretary Liza Maza said she, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalao, and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano will meet Duterte on February 20.
She expressed belief that with the meeting of the president, peace talks might resume.
"I'm quite gung-ho. The fact that he wants to meet us, my interpretation is that he is open to hearing our view. He is open to, you know, hearing us out," Maza said.
She stressed that resuming peace talks and reaching a possible settlement could help in uplifting the lives of the Filipinos.
"We are already at a very important state of negotiations. This is of the more substantive stage, the CASER, the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms," Maza said.
She said the arrest of leftist leaders, Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, who have been temporarily released due to the peace talks, would be unfortunate.
Duterte had terminated the peace talks with National Democratic Front, the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army, following the ambuscades launched by the rebels, resulting to the death of six soldiers.
"Let's not burn all our bridges," Maza said on the possible arrest of the Tiamzon couple.
She admitted there is a struggle "within" the Cabinet due to the presence of "militarists."
"So it's a struggle within and we will engage in that. We won't give up that role to engage inside the Cabinet wherein there is also strong voice of the militarists. The voice of the neo-liberal," Maza said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the NPA had used the respective unilateral ceasefires to strengthen its forces. Celerina Monte/DMS