Vice President Sara Duterte publicly disagreed with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on the possible resumption of formal negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), in turn earning criticisms and disagreements from members of both houses of Congress.
In probably her first public rebuke of her political ally, Duterte told Marcos to review plans to revive negotiations with Communist revolutionaries, calling the November 23 Joint Statement between Manila government emissaries and the NDFP “an agreement with the devil.”
“Mr. President, we can negotiate for peace and reconciliation and pursue meaningful development efforts in the Philippines without capitulating to the enemies,” Duterte said.
“They will use these peace negotiations to betray government and deceive the public,” she added.
Duterte earned swift condemnation from House of Representatives (HOR) Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers’ Party Representative France Castro who said the vice president’s statement is anti-peace and advocating for war as well as intolerant of different beliefs.
“The remarks made by Vice President Sara Duterte are detrimental to the pursuit of genuine peace negotiations. By posturing as if she is the president of the country and questioning the first steps to a peace negotiation between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the (NDFP), she is undermining the efforts to address the roots of the armed conflict in the Philippines,” Castro said.
Castro said it is alarming that the vice president’s statements reflect a lack of understanding of the complexities of the peace process and a disregard for the aspirations for just and lasting peace.
“Instead of promoting war, we call on the Vice President and those she represents to support efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the armed conflict in the country,” Castro added.
Allies of Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez at the HOR likewise commended “initiatives for peace and national unity,” by the Marcos government, contradicting the vice president’s statements.
In a statement, the so-called Political Party Leaders in the HOR described the development as an “historic move” in the country’s journey towards lasting peace and sustainable development.
At the Senate, Sen. JV Ejercito urged Duterte to talk directly to the President regarding her opinion about the planned resumption of peace negotiations to prevent further speculations of a rift between the allies.
“Better if [Duterte] talked to [Marcos] directly to quash speculations that, politically, they are headed to go in their separate ways,” Ejercito told ABS-CBN Monday night.
Duterte earlier criticized erstwhile allies in Congress who voted to reject her request of at least P125 million pesos in confidential and intelligence funds for her office and the Department of Education that she also heads.
She also downplayed the exodus of members of her political party Hugpong ng Pagbabago to Romualdez’s Laban-CMD.
Duterte and Romualdez are seen to be rivals in the 2028 presidential race.
Romualdez is a cousin of Marcos.
Sought for comment, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III also welcomed Marcos’ intention to talk peace again with the NDFP.
“Between Filipinos, we should always be open to dialogue,” Pimentel added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)