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Gov’t open to resume talks with Reds but…

DEPARTMENT of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday said the government is ready to resume peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) but said the group needs to show sincerity.

He made this comment when asked if there is still a possibility of resuming peace talks with the CPP-NPA during an interview with CNN Philippines’ “The Source” Wednesday.

The government is ready, the President (Rodrigo Duterte) is ready, but what we want from them (insurgents) is (a) little bit of sincerity kasi napakinggan naman natin yung sinabi ni (because we heard what) (National Democratic Front chief negotiator Luis) Jalandoni (that) the peace talk is only a means to advance the revolutionary movement of the CPP-NPA,” Lorenzana said.

The DND chief is also challenging the Makabayan Bloc to renounce the CPP-NPA or its armed struggle and work together with the government “if they really want this country to progress“.

Sabi ko nga kung itigil nila yung extortion nila (sa) mga (If they will just stop their extortion activities on) businesses all over the country, stop the attack on soldiers and civilians and policemen, stop sabotaging the infrastructure of the government, then come down and let us talk. Okay ang gobyerno dyan (the government is okay with that), but for as long as they are waging this war against the government, I myself will advise the President not (to) resume the peace talks,” Lorenzana said.

As this developed, the DND chief said they are now coming up with directives along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) general headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City regarding the publication or presentation of photos of fallen NPA fighters until the remains are turned over to their families or to anyone who would claim it.

This was after photos of soldiers posing with the remains of Jevilyn Cullamat circulated. But what was not seen was how the remains of Jevilyn were brought to the town and turned over to her family by the soldiers even without transportation, he noted.

They carried the body because they don’t have any transportation, they carried the body by lifting the body. Two soldiers brought the body to town and turned over the remains to the family and that has always been the practice of (our) soldiers ever since,” Lorenzana said.

The DND chief said taking pictures of fallen NPA fighters has been standard procedure since the AFP started fighting with the CPP-NPA in the 1970s.

The practice is that since we started fighting (the) CPP-NPA in 1970s, (whenever a) fighter is killed, kumukuha kami ng picture, kinukuhanan ng picture yan (We take pictures) and this picture is for our consumption only, (but) for some reasons the picture of Jevilyn Cullamat found itself with the media and yun ang nakita (and that was what was seen),” he added.

Lorenzana, however, said he does not approve of soldiers posing with the remains of fallen NPA fighters.

I don’t approve of that action, hindi dapat gawin yun (it should not have been done), maybe they could pose behind firearms or any other equipment, but not from behind bodies of fallen fighters,” he added. Philippine News Agency