By Wilnard Bacelonia

NEW SURRENDER. A New People’s Army platoon commanding officer surrenders and turns over two high-powered firearms to Police Region Office 10 at regional headquarters, Camp 1Lt Vicente G Alagar, Lapasan village, Cagayan de Oro City on April 6, 2023. Senator JV Ejercito said on Thursday (Dec. 7, 2023) that the rebels should give up their arms to show commitment to the peace talks with the national government. (Photo courtesy of PRO-10) 

MANILA – The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) can show their commitment to peace negotiations with the Philippine government by laying down their arms, Senator JV Ejercito said on Thursday.

During his interview at the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon, Ejercito said he is supportive of the decision of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to resume negotiations with the CPP-NPA-NDF but emphasized that according to the Anti-Terrorism Act, the government should not be negotiating with “terrorists.”

“Very particular ako doon sa kanilang pag-lay down noong kanilang armas, iyong pag-surrender ng armas kasi (I am very particular with how they should lay down their arms, to surrender their arms because) that would show their sincerity on their part that they are indeed serious in pursuing peace talks with the government,” Ejercito said noting that the peace talks might be used by the rebels to be able to regroup and to gather more strength.

The lawmaker clarified that despite his opposition to the group’s continued armed struggle, he still respects their ideology which he said could be pursued through “legal means.”

Doon po sa party-list system, dati naman pong napakarami nilang representative diyan as long as iyong kanilang adbokasiya ipaglaban nila. Ako, sa akin, okay po iyon as long as, again, i-give up na talaga iyong (Through party-list system, before they have a lot of representatives as long as push for their advocacies. For me, that’s okay, but they should really give up their) armed struggle,” Ejercito insisted.

The next step, the senator said, was to fast-track the country’s economic development to create more opportunities for all Filipinos to reject recruitment organized by the rebels.

Kaya nga ako po, personally advocacy ko rito iyong infrastructure development, very important iyan for our economic development. Kailangang iyan ang talagang tutukan natin para makahabol tayo sa ating mga karatig-bansa — mabigyan natin ng trabaho’t hanapbuhay ang ating mga kababayan at oportunidad (That’s why my personal advocacy is infrastructure development. That’s very important for our economic development. We need to focus on this to keep up with our neighboring countries — provide jobs and livelihood to our countrymen),” he said. (PNA)