MANILA – Leftist members of the Cabinet of President Rodrigo Duterte will remain in their respective posts despite the breakdown in the peace negotiations between the government and Maoist rebels.
"They are still cabinet," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said.
Duterte appointed left-wing leaders Judy Taguiwalo as social welfare secretary and Rafael Mariano as agrarian reform secretary when he assumed office last year, as he moved to restart negotiations that have been stalled for two decades.
He also named Liza Maza as chairperson of the National Anti-Poverty Commission and Joel Maglunsod as labor undersecretary.
There have been talks that the leftist Cabinet members will soon be given the boot following the collapse of the peace talks, given Duterte’s previous move of barring Vice President Leni Robredo from attending Cabinet meetings.
Duterte barred Robredo from attending the meetings following rumors that the vice-president was plotting to oust the chief executive.
Duterte, who won an election last year on a vow to wipe out illegal drugs, had raised hopes of bringing an end to the communist insurgency that has stunted development for years, especially in central parts of the Philippines.
A ceasefire was declared in August and last month, the government asked the U.S. State Department to remove the rebel movement's Netherlands-based founder and leader, Jose Ma. Sison, from its terrorist blacklist to move negotiations forward.
But both sides later traded accusations of truce violations and negotiating in bad faith.
Duterte said he had "walked the extra mile" to bring peace by resuming talks and freeing rebel leaders but his efforts were never reciprocated by the communists who took advantage of the talks to recruit fighters and extort money. – with Reuters