Malacañang on Thursday brushed aside a call by self-exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison on the incoming Duterte administration to file plunder charges against President Aquino and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad in connection with the alleged misuse of congressional pork barrel funds.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. was asked at the regular Palace news briefing about a statement by Sison, 77, the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) who has been on a self-imposed exile in The Netherlands, that the President and Secretary Abad were “responsible for looting and unprecedented corruption.”
“Questions such as those are about prospective actions of the incoming administration and the incoming President… [because] for example, that arrest cannot be done between now and June 30,”
Coloma said, referring to the end of Mr. Aquino’s term and the installation of presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte.
Coloma told the media to be more circumspect in asking about “prospective scenarios” as it might not be helpful in the calls to have “unity and healing in the nation.”
In a post on his Facebook page, Sison expressed hopes that Duterte would visit him before his inauguration to lay the groundwork for the resumption of peace talks between the government and the CPP.
A security analyst told the Inquirer that how Duterte would be able to reconcile the ideological differences of the extreme left and extreme right to achieve lasting internal peace and security would be one of the biggest challenges to the presumptive President.
“That would test his promise of unity and healing. That’s the challenge to him and it’s good because here we have a complex problem that will test his skill as a leader… It is the best time for him to set the tone of Mr. Duterte’s leadership,” said Chester Cabalza, a professor at the National Defense College of the Philippines.
Duterte’s supporters are made up of strange bedfellows, particularly retired military officials from the Ramos and Arroyo administrations and former CPP members and sympathizers.
“The key words for everyone are trust and respect,” Cabalza said.
“The resumption of the peace talks with the CPP is long overdue. We’ve had the longest protracted warfare with the left… Duterte came at the right time because we are confronted by external threats and we need to solve our internal security issues,” Cabalza said.
Cabalza said that with his self-proclaimed ties with the left, Duterte might just be the right leader to talk to them.
“Any peace process takes time. This time around, we are starting from scratch because of the long pause we’ve had in the negotiations. And here comes a new leader who is sympathetic to them,” Cabalza said.