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No formal peace talks yet with Reds—Teodoro

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DEFENSE Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Friday clarified that there are no formal peace negotiations yet with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

In a television interview, Teodoro said the joint communique signed in Oslo, Norway on November 23 with the NDFP citing the need to “unite as a nation” amid socioeconomic and environmental issues and foreign security threats was merely an agreement for “exploratory talks.”

“Not yet peace talks, because, as I understand it, there was a request by the NDF to a negotiator that they were willing to give up the armed struggle, and why not meet?” Teodoro said.

“There are no formalized peace talks and we have to see first what the conditions are for the talks to continue. So much so that the activities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the PNP, and the NTF-ELCAC will continue,” he added.

Teodoro noted that there was no harm in listening to the offer.

“We have entered into several so-called peace agreements before. I think the government is well aware of the lessons learned there and is not going to repeat the same things that have happened in the past,” Teodoro pointed out.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier granted amnesty to returning rebels, including former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) as part of the peace process and reintegration of the leftist groups into mainstream society.

According to the Presidential Communications Office, amnesty was granted to former CPP-NPA-NDF members, or their front organizations that committed crimes whether punishable under the Revised Penal Code or special penal laws, including but not limited to rebellion or insurrection; conspiracy and proposal to commit rebellion or insurrection; disloyalty of public officers or employees; inciting to rebellion or insurrection; sedition; conspiracy to commit sedition; and inciting to sedition.

Other offenses also  covered illegal assembly; illegal association; direct assault; indirect assault; resistance and disobedience to a person in authority or the agents of such person; tumults and other disturbances of public order; unlawful use of means of publication and unlawful utterances; alarms and scandals; illegal possession of firearms, ammunition or explosives, provided that these crimes or offense were committed in furtherance of, incident to, or in connection with the crimes of rebellion or insurrection.

Also covered by the amnesty are those charged, detained or convicted of common crimes but who can establish by substantial evidence that they have actually committed said crimes in pursuit of political beliefs.

However, the said amnesty under the new proclamations does not cover the offenses of kidnap for ransom, massacre, rape, terrorism, crimes committed against chastity, and illegal drugs.

Other exceptions are grave violations of the “Geneva Convention of 1949,” genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, enforced disappearances, and other gross violations of human rights.

The amnesty, however, needs the concurrence of a majority vote of the
members of the Senate and House of Representatives.

Article VII, Section 19 of the 1987 Constitution states that the President has “the power to grant amnesty with the concurrence of a majority of all the members of the Congress.”


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