Maza admits 'struggle' within Duterte Cabinet after peace talks collapse


Posted at Feb 16 2017 04:56 PM

There is a "struggle within" the Cabinet of President Rodrigo Duterte following the collapse of talks between the government and communist rebels, a leftist Cabinet member said Thursday.

"It's a struggle within and we will engage in that. Hindi namin igi-give up ang role sa Cabinete kung saan nandun din ang boses ng mga militarista, boses ng mga liberal, boses ng mga dati," National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) chief Liza Maza told Palace reporters.

(It's a struggle within and we will engage in that. We will not give up our roles in the Cabinet where there are also voices from militarists and liberals.)

There has been a difference in opinion on various policies, Maza said, without mentioning names and policies. 

The peace talks between the government and the Reds was halted after some soldiers were allegedly brutally ambushed by the New People's Army (NPA). 

"We have to work with them. In this set-up, you always have to establish unity with people and that is what we want to nourish," Maza said.

The NAPC lead convenor reiterated that leftist Cabinet members have no plans of vacating their posts as they still enjoy the president's trust and confidence despite his decision to pull away from the negotiating table.

Maza said their reasons for joining the administration, such as Duterte's promises of genuine reform, independent foreign policy, just and lasting peace, still hold water.

"Yung reason bakit namin tinanggap ang posisyon sa gabinete ay nandun pa naman... 'Yung resumption of peace talks, hindi pa namin ginive up yun."

(The reasons why we accepted our posts are still there... We have not yet given up on the resumption of peace talks.)

Duterte is set to meet with leftist Cabinet members on February 20 to discuss the possible resumption of peace talks, Maza said.

"I'm quite gung-ho with the fact that he wants to meet us. My interpretation is he is open to hear our views, he is open to hear us out," Maza said.

While the president has yet to change his mind about dropping negotiations, Maza urged both the government and the Reds to stop all attacks, including psychological wars.

Both sides should instead craft rules and terms of engagement when it comes to declaring or lifting ceasefire agreements, she said.