Duterte meets with leftist Cabinet members

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 21 2017 03:34 PM | Updated as of Feb 21 2017 11:30 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte met with leftist members of his Cabinet at the Palace on Monday, weeks after the collapse of peace talks between the communist rebels and the government. 

Photos and a video released by the Palace on Tuesday show Duterte in discussion with Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, and National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Secretary Liza Maza, who were all nominated by the Communist Party of the Philippines for the Cabinet. 

Also present in the meeting were Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, and Labor Secretary and chief peace negotiator Silvestre Bello III. 

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella earlier said leftist members of the Cabinet would remain in their posts even after the CPP and government lifted their unilateral ceasefires, and Duterte suspended peace negotiations. 

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