Lacson says if he's elected president, peace talks with communist rebels to resume

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2022 05:25 PM

MANILA -- Presidential aspirant Sen. Panfilo Lacson said peace talks with communist rebels will resume if he wins the presidency, he said Monday.

Lacson, a former national police chief, noted that at the end of the day, these rebels are Filipinos who deserve all the help they can get.

"Unang una, tuloy-tuloy ang peace talks. Huwag natin kalimutan na kababayan natin yan," he said in a radio interview.

He stressed that this must also be accompanied with the proper implementation of development programs in areas cleared of rebels. 

Without the development projects, he said continued poverty may push rebels who have surrendered to take up arms again.

Lacson previously said that some programs of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) were not properly implemented.

"Ang lugar na maraming surrenderees, napagkaitan. Ito ang gusto namin i-correct," he said.

Senators in September slashed the controversial anti-insurgency task force's budget for its failure to fully report how it spent P16 billion supposedly to help local villages.

The NTF-ELCAC has been criticized for supposedly red tagging female celebrities, some lawmakers, and Senate workers.

Communist insurgents began waging war mainly in the countryside in the late 1960s. Negotiations for peaceful settlement started in 1987, but had been stalled from time to time. 

In 2019, Duterte terminated the talks between the Philippine government and the the communist group.

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