Malacañang on Wednesday said left-leaning Cabinet members continue to enjoy President Rodrigo Duterte’s “full trust” despite his decision to end peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
In a chance interview, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano and National Anti-Poverty Commission lead convenor Liza Maza have “no conflict” whatsoever with the President.
He said the leftist Cabinet members are “very much different” from the rebels in the CPP’s armed wing, the New Peoples’ Army (NPA).
“They [Cabinet members] are not members of the NPA as far as we can see. Ang mahalaga [What’s important] is they are doing their job in their agencies and their departments,” Abella told reporters.
“These are two different things. They are leftist but they’re addressing certain [problems], they’re heads of agencies. Up to this stage, as far as I can see, there is no conflict,” he said.
The leftist Cabinet officials, according to Abella, will stay on as members of Duterte’s official family.
“They’re there and as long as they’re there we can assume that they still have his full trust. That is the assumption because no action has been taken against them as far as I know,” he said.
“Well, up to this stage, as far as I know there is no action taken against them,” the Palace official added.
Taguiwalo, Mariano and Maza have not released any statement after Duterte’s order to end the peace talks.
Duterte scrapped the peace negotiations with the communist group on July 20 as he lost his cool over a series of attacks launched by the NPA against government troops.
In his second State of the Nation Address on Monday, the President reiterated that the government peace panel would no longer pursue the dialogue with the communist leaders.
“To the Left, I will not talk to you. Why should I?” Duterte said. “I am a bully to the enemies of the State. So if you don’t want to talk to me, I do not want to talk to you and I do not want you. So you don’t want to talk, I don’t want it too.”
This was not the first time that the President terminated the peace negotiations with the communists.
On February 4, Duterte was prompted to cancel the dialogue with the communist group, a day after the CPP lifted a unilateral ceasefire with government forces.
The talks resumed in April on the success of backchannel talks between the government and communists peace panels.