MANILA, Philippines – While the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is pushing for the revival of the anti-subversion law, it acknowledged it could drop the campaign should President Rodrigo Duterte considers negotiating with the Reds again.
“The President himself has not said that the peace talks are completely over. Laging sinasabi niya, although he already has issued some excutive order, lagi siyang bukas, And even Senator Bong Go has said na bukas ang gobyerno sa peace talks,” DILG Undersecretary and Spokesman Jonathan Malaya said in a Rappler Talk interview on Monday, August 19.
(The President always says that, although he has issued some executive order [against the leftist movement], he is always open [to peace talks]. Even Senator Bong Go has said the government is open to peace talks.)
He added: “So kung sasabihin ng Pangulong Duterte, ‘Peace talks tayo ulit’ (So if President Duterte says, 'Let's have peace talks again'), we will abandon this anti-subversion law, because this will be incongruent.”
According to Malaya, Duterte has so far asked the DILG to “give details” about its recommendation, which he said he sees as his “tacit support” already.
The DILG is pushing for the revival of Republic Act 1700 or The Anti-Subversion Act of 1957, which made it a crime to be a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). In defending the campaign from flak, Malaya argued that Duterte is no Marcos.
What President Duterte is known for, however, is his changing stance in dealing with the CPP.
Duterte is the first president to declare himself a leftist, and courted the Left by releasing its top leaders at the start of his term. He tried to complete a peace agreement by his second year, but their relationship had soured to the point that Duterte declared the CPP-New People’s Army as a "terrorist organization.”
“If he (Duterte) does not like it (DILG proposal), I’m sure Secretary Año will receive a call,” Malaya said.
Nevertheless, the DILG will continue with its call, announcing repeatedly in the previous week that it is “ready” to coordinate with Congress in drafting legislation that it sees is the antidote to ending Asia’s longest lasting communist insurgency.