National Democratic Front (NDF) peace negotiating panel chairperson Luis Jalandoni has described incoming president Rodrigo Duterte's offer of government positions to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) as "electrifying."
In an interview with ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau, Jalandoni said the proposal "will empower the masses, the peasants and farmers."
He added that Duterte's move to offer four Cabinet positions to the CPP is "a big step towards unity and will remove the shackles of oppression and exploitation."
Jalandoni said he and exiled Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison will come up with a shortlist of qualified and competent people to fill up the posts at the labor, environment, social welfare, and agrarian reform departments.
He said the move "will head towards equal distribution of wealth."
In a press conference in Davao City on Monday, Duterte said he would be willing to concede four departments to the CPP:
- Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR),
- the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), - the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE),
- Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
"Ang ibibigay ko sa Communist Party of the Philippines, if they decide to join the government, 'yung DAR, DENR...Labor is the one, sabi nila pinaka-oppressed 'yan, so they are the most vigilant group in the Philippines about labor," he said.
"So they will get it [DOLE] and DSWD, at marami pang iba. But those are the only departments I can concede to them, that four. Maganda na 'yan," Duterte added.
Two political analysts have welcomed the move.
Julio Teehankee, dean of De La Salle University's College of Liberal Arts, said Duterte's offer to the CPP is a "stroke of genius."
Teehankee said putting the Left in charge of four social service-oriented Cabinet portfolios will redound to a truly socially inclusive coalition.
"This is part of his campaign promise to form a unity government, also confidence building measure with the communist Left. This is really out of the box. There has never been a government in our history that has offered the communists to join a coalition," he said in an ANC interview.
"The question is will the appointments come before or after the [peace] negotiations resume."
Ramon Casiple, Institute for Political and Electoral Reform executive director, described the offer as a trust-building measure that could effectively jump start peace negotiations with the CPP-New People's Army, which has been waging a nearly
Casiple noted the programs covered by the four departments are "not crucial." He said the four departments do not concern national defense or foreign affairs, but are instead primarily concerned with basic services. - with a report from Danny Buenafe, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau