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No need for peace talks with NDFP after Masbate attacks —VP Sara

Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte on Thursday said there is no need to resume peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) after the recent rebel attacks in Masbate that have disrupted classes in the province.

Duterte said this in response to the statement of House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro of ACT Teachers party-list that the attacks highlight the need for the resumption of the peace talks between the government and the NDFP to address the root causes of the armed conflict.

“Castro’s assertion that the peace negotiations would address the root causes of the armed conflict was ludicrous. Instead, it would only give legitimacy to the absurdity of the terrorism perpetrated by the armed wing of the NDFP, the NPAs (New People's Army),” the Education chief said.

“Negotiating with the NDFP is always doomed to fail. Malinaw sa kasaysayan na ang magbe-benepisyo lang ng peace talks ay ang NPA at mga grupong katulad ng ACT Teachers,” she added.

(It is clear in history that the only beneficiaries of peace talks are the NPA and groups like ACT Teachers.)

Duterte earlier reported that the Masbate attacks resulted in the suspension of classes in six towns, affecting more than 55,000 learners and 2,815 personnel.

Castro condemned the attacks and called for an independent probe by forensic experts and the Commission on Human Rights to unmask the perpetrators.

Duterte, however, insisted that what happened in Masbate does not highlight the need for the resumption of the peace talks, but the need for collective effort as a nation to protect the learners from threats brought by groups like the NPA.

She also warned the Marcos administration “not to fall into this trap” after Castro’s call for peace talks.

Last Thursday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said one soldier was killed in the series of encounters with suspected NPA rebels in Masbate that took place from March 20 to 22. Two other soldiers and two policemen were also hurt in the clashes.

The Department of Education (DepEd) said the attacks “have caused trauma to learners and school personnel, who witnessed the senseless violence.”

No suspension of classes were, however, implemented due to this, with the regional office in Bicol and schools division office in Masbate tasked to ensure learning continuity, according to DepEd. —Giselle Ombay/KBK, GMA Integrated News