Duterte sees dim prospects for re-starting peace talks with NPA

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Pres. Duterte presides at joint command conference of the AFP and PNP in MalacaƱang, Oct. 3, 2017. PCOO PHOTO BY MARCELINO PASCUA

MANILA – The chance of reviving stalled peace talks with the communist rebels is dimming, given signals given by President Rodrigo Duterte at a military event Thursday.

At the change of command at the Philippine Army Duterte said reopening negotiations with the New People’s Army does not seem that beneficial at the moment.

“I am not ready to talk to them [NPAs] because it is not good for the country. Ayaw ko [I don’t want to]. Maybe it will take some time and maybe need another president to do it,” said Duterte.

He acknowledged, meanwhile, that terrorism remained a big problem, and vowed to work hard to provide whatever it is the Armed Forces of the Philippines needed in order to deal with the enemy.

His directive: all proceeds from the lease of military camps or land should all go to the AFP.

Instead of drawing additional budgets from the government, the AFP can maximize the revenue from lease agreements as a key source of funding for modernization and acquiring new equipment.

Tapping revenue streams from leases on military lands was a recommendation of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.

Duterte told the military and defense brass on Thursday, “you can fund the modernization for equipment you need to meet challenges ahead. Kung may sobra, ‘wag niyo ipagbili because this belongs to the AFP.”

The President also said he was considering doubling the soldiers’ salary by January.

Meanwhile, the President designated recently retired Army chief, Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, as a member of the board of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA). He noted there is no military man on the board of the agency, despite the fact it was set up to preside over the most efficient monetization of military assets from former baselands.

Replacing Miranda as new Army chief is Gen. Rolando Bautista, former head of Task Force Marawi.