Duterte warned: Tread with caution, learn from history

Marvin Sy - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV yesterday warned incoming president Rodrigo Duterte to be cautious in dealing with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), especially on the plan to give them Cabinet positions.

Trillanes said there should be “requisites to such a generous offer, otherwise the communist movement might take advantage and use this freedom, power and influence to actually strengthen their forces, like what they did during the Cory administration.”

“We should learn from history,” he said.

Trillanes clarified that he favors putting an end to the insurgency problem and exploring all options to accomplish this, but stressed that the government should always be wary of the intentions of the other party.

“While there is reason to be hopeful that the proposals to give the CPP-NPA at least four Cabinet positions and amnesty to political prisoners will end the decades-old insurgency problem, we should be prudent and deliberate in our approach to them,” he said.

He expressed doubt whether CPP-NPA founder Joma Sison would truly give up his communist aspirations.

Sison lives in exile in the Netherlands.

“Would political detainees who are to be given amnesty, like the Tiamsons, be swearing an oath of allegiance to our government and permanently lay down their arms?” he asked.

The Tiamsons – the couple Benito and Wilma – are allegedly officers of the CPP-National Democratic Front. They were arrested in 2014.

Duterte had said that he would offer Cabinet positions to four members of the CPP once he assumes the presidency on June 30. He had reserved seats for them as heads of the labor, environment and natural resources, agrarian reform and social welfare and development departments.

Meanwhile, returning senator Panfilo Lacson said the incoming president has the sole prerogative and authority to choose his Cabinet members, and this should be respected.

Lacson clarified, however, that the appointments would still have to go through the Commission on Appointments, in compliance with the principle of check and balance.

“Having said that, those who will be appointed have to take their oath of office and must swear to protect and defend the Constitution,” he said.

Lacson said the CPP-NPA-NDF should first lay down their arms and abandon their objective of overthrowing the government before they could formally assume office.


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