By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte gathered the Cabinet’s security, justice, and peace clusters for a “special meeting” in Malacañang Wednesday night.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, joining President Duterte in the meeting were House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Senate President Tito Sotto, Senator Gringo Honasan, and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Carlito Galvez, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana were also in the meeting.
Also present during the meeting were Antipolo City 2nd District Representative Romeo Acop; Tawi-Tawi Representative Ruby Sahali-Tan; League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) national chairman Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano; and LCP national president Angeles City, Pampanga Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan.
As of press time, Malacañang has not released any information about the meeting. However, last week, Roque said that the Cabinet cluster on security would meet to finalize the guidelines for the localized peace talks.
The meeting with the security cluster came after Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Joma Sison said that the Reds would no longer talk of peace with the government under the leadership of President Duterte, and would instead support efforts to oust him.
During the Cabinet meeting last week, Duterte said that localized peace talks may be pursued by local government units as provided that they do not concede any aspect of governance.
Roque said that localized peace talks should be pursuant to guidelines to be agreed upon by the Cabinet cluster on security.
Meanwhile, the Wednesday evening special meeting with the different Cabinet clusters came following the death of three local officials in Luzon last week.
The killings of Tanauan City, Batangas Mayor Antonio Halili; Gen. Tinio, Nueva Ecija Mayor Ferdinand Bote; and Trece Martires, Cavite Vice Mayor Alexander Lubigan prompted local officials in the country to seek a meeting with the President.
Malacañang has committed to conduct a swift investigation on the killings to immediately bring the perpetrators to justice.
However, it denied allegations that the government had a hand in the recent killings of local officials after it was reported that Halili, who was shot dead during a flag ceremony, was included in Duterte’s narco-list.
Roque earlier said the allegations were just speculations, noting that there was no clear pattern that will link the killings to the government.