SAP GO TO NPA REBELS: Don’t doubt Duterte’s sincerity to end war
Amid calls for the resumption of peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go told the rebel group not to doubt the sincerity of President Rodrigo Duterte in ending the 50-year old armed conflict with the communist movement.
Go said this during the release of Police Insp. Menard Cui in Sitio Apog-Apog, Barangay Tiko, Magpet, North Cotabato on Friday. Cui who was the deputy chief of police of President Roxas town in North Cotabato, was abducted by the New People’s Army (NPA) in December last year.
Go said there is no question about Duterte’s sincerity in reaching out to the communist movement.
“Kilala ko ang Presidente. Sincere siyang kausap (I know the President. He is a sincere person to talk with),” Go said as he cited the President’s signing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), now known as the Bangsamoro Organic law (BOL), in fulfilment of a promise to end all conflicts in Mindanao.
He reiterated Duterte’s wish for Communist Party of the Philippines Chairman Jose Maria Sison to come home for the resumption of the peace negotiations.
Go also noted the many times the President went to the mountains to reach out to the revolutionary movement and fetch prisoners of war (POWs) without any security.
“Patunay na malakas ang tiwala sa inyo. Pinagkatiwala niya ang kanyang buhay sa inyo (This shows he trusts you. He entrusted his life to you),” Go said.
During Cui’s release, peace advocacy group Exodus Movement for Justice and Peace (EMJP) also called on both sides to go back to the negotiating table.
The EJMP maintained its neutrality in the current conflict, saying it only wants both parties to “respect the rights of the people.”
Pastor Jonathan Casimina of EMJP lauded the NPA for the release of Cui, saying it is a good gesture. He emphasized “the need to value life and live peacefully.”
“It is painful to see that Filipinos are killing each other and it is only through peace talks that the country will end the war,” Casimina said.
A team from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was also present during the release of Cui as an observer.
Amélie Larocque, Protection Team Leader of the ICRC, said the team’s participation was to check how Cui as a POW was treated in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law (IHL).
Larocque said ICRC is an independent organization.
“We are not taking sides. We have no role in the release,” she said.
Larocque said ICRC engages in dialogues with all parties with confidentiality to ensure there is no violation of the IHL, noting that the group’s mandate “is to provide protection to those affected by conflicts.” (PNA)