MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade branded as “malaking kalokohan” resuming peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
“To say na yung peace talks po ay dapat natin balikan yun po ay malaking kalokohan,” Parlade said during Tuesday’s resumption of the Senate inquiry on red-tagging.
(To say that we should revive peace talks with the CPP is big nonsense.)
But Senator Francis Pangilinan called Parlade out on his language and said it was unparliamentary.
Before this, Pangilinan highlighted the urgency and importance of “aggressive” peace talks in spurring economic development.
“Nung ’80s yung Cagayan de Oro, yung Davao City, yung General Santos, talagang walang development diyan,” the senator said.
(During the ’80s, there’s really no development in Cagayan de Oro, Davao City, General Santos.)
He said the “aggressive” peace talks during the administration of former President Fidel Ramos with the Moro National Liberation Front, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and the CPP opened doors for investment in these areas.
“The economic development in Cagayan de Oro in General Santos, in Davao City, in the early up to the mid-90s was precisely because of these aggressive peace negotiations,” Pangilinan said.
“If we pursue continuing aggressive peace negotiations, there would be a second or third wave of economic development in these areas,” he added.
“Until we address this issue of aggressive peace negotiations, tigil putukan [ceasefire], e palagay [I think] it’s going to be a vicious cycle and we will not be able to duplicate that window of economic investments undertaken because of the aggressiveness of peace negotiations in the mid-90s,” he further said.
But while Parlade agreed that peace talks with the MNLF and the MILF led to positive outcomes, he opposed the resumption of negotiations with the CPP.
The military official said that under the Comprehensive Agreement on Social Economic Reforms (Caser), there is no “demobilization” for the CPP’s armed wing.
“These peace talks with the CPP, napakalinaw po yun doon sa [it’s clear under the] Comprehensive Agreement on Social Economic Reforms, wala pong [there’s no] demobilization doon [there]. In fact, there’s a role reserved for the New People’s Army (NPA)…the NPA shall participate in the agrarian reform, rural, agricultural and industrial development,” Parlade said.
“Nakikita po natin ang direksyon ng peace talks na ito. Tanggaling po ang Armed Forces, maiiwan ay ang mga engineering brigades to help the NPA rural and infrastructure development, ganyan po ba ang peace talks na gusto natin? Napakahaba po ng Caser at dun nakapailalim yung iba pa nilang agenda,” he added.
(We see the direction of these peace talks. The Armed Forces will be demobilized, only engineering brigades will remain to help the NPA in rural and infrastructure development. Is that the peace talks we want? The Caser is really long and the bottom contains their agenda.)
After Parlade’s manifestation, Pangilinan said he disagrees with the military official’s remark that resuming peace talks with the CPP is nonsense.
“I think it’s unparliamentary language to manifest na after we’ve expressed concern about the urgency and the importance of peace talks that one of the resource persons will say ‘Yang peace talks na yan, kalokohan ‘yan’ [‘Those peace talks are nonsense’]. I think that is unparliamentary,” the senator said.
“It is to say, therefore, that this representation’s earlier manifestation is ‘kalokohan’ and I beg to disagree,” he added.