The peace process between the Duterte administration and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) will prosper despite the rebel group’s opposition to the hero’s burial for the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, the government’s chief peace negotiator said on Saturday.
In a radio interview, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani will not have a “substantial” effect on the peace process.
“Kung meron mang epekto, hindi naman masyadong substantial — ibig sabihin, hindi naman ito magiging dahilan para hindi isulong yung usapang pangkapayapaan [If there will be an affect, it will not be that substantial– meaning, this will not be a reason to stop the peace talks],” Bello told government-run dzRB radio.
He issued the statement after National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) adviser Luis Jalandoni said the burial may affect the ongoing peace talks with communist rebels.
In a peace forum in Baguio City on Friday, Jalandoni said the Duterte administration had been “insensitive” to the victims of Martial Law tyranny for allowing the burial of the late dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. He also said that the portrayal of Marcos as a hero, and the growing street protests, had upset the NDF.
Bello said Jalandoni had not mentioned to him personally the rebel group’s concern over the burial of Marcos.
But he added the peace talks with the communist rebels had no “preconditions.”
“Mula’t-mula pa yung pag uusap namin ng peace talks, hindi — without any preconditions, maliwanag ‘yan under… declaration [From the start, the peace talks did not come with any preconditions, that was clear under the declaration],” Bello said.
Bello said that even though the communist group has expressed its strong disapproval, the issue on Marcos’ burial should not thwart the ongoing peace talks.
“Alam naman po nila na hindi dapat magiging hadlang o maliwanag naman po sa pag-uusap namin na ang pag-uusap namin ay hindi dapat hahadlangan ng any other matter [They know that this should not be a hindrance and it was made clear to them that the peace talks should not be deterred by any other matter],” Bello said.
“’Yung issue ng paglilibing kay Marcos eh masyadong ano ‘yan, maliit na bagay ‘yan na dapat hindi makakaapekto sa usapang pangkapayapaan [The issue on the burial of Marcos is a not a big issue and should not affect the peace talks],” he added.
Communists were among the Marcos administration’s primary targets during Martial Law, with countless instances of torture and abduction done in the name of quelling the Leftist rebellion.
Last week, the CPP denounced the sneaky interment of Marcos at the heroes’ cemetery and called on the President to reverse the decision of the Supreme Court allowing the hero’s burial for the late dictator.
The CPP said Duterte should heed the public’s outcry against the Marcos burial, instead of paying tribute to the past president.
“By giving Marcos a hero’s burial, Duterte has succeeded in stoking the anger and rage of the victims of the United States-Marcos dictatorship, as well as the younger generation of Filipinos who are highly conscious of the lessons of Martial law and indignant of the innumerable crimes of the fascist tyrant,” the CPP said.
“The CPP advises Duterte to reverse this historical wrong,” the communist group added.