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Left-leaning Cabinet members to persuade Duterte to revive peace talks

File photo shows the government and NDF panels facing each other in earlier discussions in Oslo.
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - Revival of the peace talks between the government and the communist rebels will be the top agenda when President Rodrigo Duterte meets with his three left-leaning Cabinet members on February 20.

During the Palace briefing on Thursday, National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Lead Convenor Liza Maza confirmed President Duterte’s scheduled meeting with her and her fellow leftist Cabinet members: Secretary Judy Taguiwalo of Social Welfare and Development and Secretary Rafael Mariano of Agrarian Reform.

"I hope he will revive the peace talks. It is important," Maza told the Palace media.

"I’m quite gung-ho. The fact that he wants to meet us, my interpretation is that he is open to hearing our views. He is open to hearing us out," she added.

Early this month, Duterte scrapped the peace negotiations with National Democratic Front (NDF) after both the Philippine government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army lifted their separate, unilateral ceasefires.

Maza said she will explain to the President that peace talks with the communist rebels is important to address poverty in the country.

"Because right now, the talks has already started in relation to the comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms or CASER and this agreement actually addresses the root causes of armed conflict," she explained.

Maza said genuine land reform will play a big role in the government’s target to reduce poverty incidence from at 26 percent to at least 9 percent.

"We can attain poverty reduction between 9 and 15 percent if [we] institute genuine agrarian reform, if we start to develop our national industry which will spur economic development," Maza said.

Maza said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello will also join the February 20 meeting with President Duterte.

"We are already at a very important stage of the negotiations. This is of the more substantive stage, the CASER. It will be such a waste if we will just throw away all that both panels have tried to achieve," she said.

Maza appealed both to the military and the NPA rebels to stop those attacks and exchange of accusations that led to the cancellation of peace negotiations.

”My personal appeal is to stop all those attacks and let us reflect first,” she said.