Newly-appointed national defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro reiterated his position against the peace negotiations with the revolutionary Left who in turn said they are not surprised at all.
Immediately after his re-appointment to the post, Teodoro said he had always been against the peace process with the Left, something he added is also the position of the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration’s security sector.
“My personal position is ‘no’. That has always been my position ever since. And I think that is the position of the security cluster as of this time,” he told reporters last Thursday, June 8.
Appointed by Marcos Jr. as defense secretary for the second time last May 5, Teodoro first occupied the post from 2007 to 2009 under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo presidency.
Instead of peace negotiations, Teodoro said armed members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) should instead return to the fold of law.
“We can talk about their issues in the proper forum—the Congress—and they should participate in the legitimate political process. The CPP is legal because Republic Act 1700 (law outlawing the CPP) has been repealed long ago,” Teodoro said in a mix of English and Filipino.
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel was quick to rebuke the returning defense chief, saying they are not surprised by Teodoro’s position against the peace talks.
“After all, Teodoro comes from the same ilk of military warmongers who served Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and supported convicted war criminal Jovito Palparan,” NDFP peace panel chairperson Julie de Lima said Friday, June 9.
“Teodoro was one of the main implementors of Oplan Bantay Laya which is one of the bloodiest counterrevolutionary campaigns under the US-Arroyo regime,” de Lima added.
The NDFP said there have been documented human rights abuses under Teodoro and Macapagal-Arroyo, including aerial bombings in Mindanao and various cases of enforced disappearances as part of Oplan Bantay-Laya.
“We reiterate the NDFP’s policy of openness to peace negotiations. But at the same time, we see no signs of the current administration’s willingness to create the necessary conditions for peace talks to continue,” added de Lima.
De Lima said that while the revolutionary movement is always ready to talk peace with the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines), “they will persist in advancing the people’s war to defend the Filipino people against more brutal fascist attacks and US military intervention which [they] expect to intensify with the newly appointed DND chief.”
‘Calling a spade a spade’
The CPP for its part called Teodoro a “United States (US) factotum (servant)” who does not want to pursue peace because his real bosses want wars to continue to consume surplus US military hardware.
The CPP further alleged that Teodoro, corrupt officials in the Marcos Jr. government and general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) “keep their share of the fat contracts” under such programs as the so-called modernization of the military.
“Thus, it comes as no surprise that the recycled defense secretary declared that he has no plans of pursuing the NDFP-GRP peace negotiations. He is only interested in armed suppression and pacification of the revolutionary forces who represent the people’s profound aspirations for genuine social change,” CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena said.
Valbuena also dismissed Teodoro’s demand for the CPP and the New People’s Army (NPA) to stop their armed struggle as “grossly ironic” given the defense chief’s personal history.
The CPP spokesperson recalled Teodoro chaired controversial companies Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) and Indophil Resources Corporation (formerly known as Glencore International) since 2015. Indophils owns 37.5% of SMI.
In September 2022, the local government of Tampakan, South Cotabato revoked SMI’s business permit for alleged fraud and misrepresentation, declaring itself to be a mineral exploration manufacturer but found to be operating as a general engineering contractor.
“So, do we expect him to have any interest in listening to the grievances of peasants and minority people who are being displaced in their hundreds of thousands by the expansion of mining companies? No. Can the people expect him to have any interest in addressing the socioeconomic and political roots of the current civil war in the country? No,” Valbuena said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)