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‘Duterte still keen on peace with Reds’

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by Aytch Dela Cruz

Even after calling off peace negotiations, President Duterte remains passionate in pursuing just and lasting peace with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), according to Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.

Taguiwalo said she and her fellow left-leaning Cabinet members – Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano and National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) chairperson Liza Maza – were assured by the president that the government will keep working to resolve its armed conflict with the NDFP.

“Nito lamang Lunes, kinausap ako, si Ka Paeng at si Sec. Liza Maza ni Pangulong Duterte. Nabasa niya naman ang statement ni Secretary Jess Dureza. Tiniyak na sa amin ni President Duterte, actually ang term is ‘passion,’ to pursue a just and lasting peace (with the NDFP),” Taguiwalo said the other day.

The three secretaries, who were primarily in charge of implementing the anti-poverty programs of the administration, repeatedly made public appeals for the president to reconsider his decision last February 4 to cancel the peace talks.

On Wednesday, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) held a forum on Comprehensive Agreement on Social Reforms (CASER), which is considered as an important agenda in the peace negotiations.

Atty. Angela Librado-Trinidad of the government peace panel and Atty. Rolando Rico Olalia, consultant of NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee were there to present the social and economic reforms proposal of both parties.

Taguiwalo said she believes CASER holds the key towards ending not only the long-drawn-out struggle that Filipinos have with respect to the communist insurgency but also addressing the fundamental causes of it as well.

Some of the discussions in the just concluded forum revolved around coming up with solutions to address the persistent agrarian reform problems, chronic unemployment in the country, inadequate social services, among others.

“When we talked to him (Duterte) the other night, talagang alam niya ‘yung problema sa lupa ng mga magsasaka, bakit mahalaga na maipamigay ito sa kanila nang walang bayad at ang mga serbisyo na kailangang ibigay,” Taguiwalo said.

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