Duterte says relieved Congress rejected leftist leaders' Cabinet appointments

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 26 2018 08:31 PM | Updated as of Sep 26 2018 08:33 PM

CALAMBA CITY - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he was relieved that the Commission on Appointments chose to reject the appointments of leftist leaders he named to his Cabinet following the breakdown of peace negotiations with communist rebels.

“Eh ako naman in my desire really to just extend a helping hand, maybe I can succeed talking to them, naipasok ko rin sa gobyerno (I got them inside the government). Mabuti na lang ni-reject ng Congress ‘yung appointments nila (It's good that Congress rejected their appointments). It turned out to be na ayaw talaga nila ng (they don't really want [peace])—even the talks now are almost done,” Duterte said in a speech here.

Congress rejected last year the appointments of Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, both leftist leaders, to the Duterte cabinet. 

Taguiwalo and Mariano, along with Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor chair Terry Ridon, who was fired for excessive travels, and National Anti-Poverty Commission chair Liza Maza, who resigned from her post, were appointed by Duterte in the beginning of his administration in a bid to court the support of communist groups.

In his speech, Duterte again slammed the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) whom he accused of orchestrating a plot to oust him. 

“Iyon ang alam ng NPA (That's what the NPA knows how to do): to destroy the government, to destroy its functions of government, and to kill the soldiers, kill the policemen, kill everybody for the last 52 years,” Duterte said.

The President said he was not prepared to revive peace negotiations with the Reds at this time. 

The talks were first canceled last year over continuing rebel attacks on state troops, and a supposed resumption this year was halted. 
Duterte has also moved to declare the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization.

“I don’t know if it could be revived. But I am not ready at this time to talk about talking to the communists. For as long as there is an objection from the military and the police," he said.

"Pinag-ipon nila lahat ‘yung mga (They gathered) various agreements: JASIG (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees), humanitarian rights, it would now appear that more or less there is a sharing—hindi (not a) coalition—but sharing of governmental powers which we cannot concede, I cannot give because we do not own sovereignty."