SAP Go to rebels: Reciprocate President’s sincerity

Optimistic of peace talks with MILF, NPA


Special Assistant to the President, Secretary Bong Go sees bright prospects on the development of the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the New People’s Army (NPA).

In an interview with reporters during the launch of Maguindanao “Balik Baril” program in Buluan town in Maguindanao, Go said the MILF is fully aware and acknowledges the efforts of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP) towards the success of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign for peace in the region.

“Alam po ng MILF (kung) ano yung effort na ginagawa ko rin para matuloy po itong usapang pangkapayapaan. Alam po ni (MILF) Vice Chairman Jaafar at (MILF) Chairman Murad, parati po kaming nag-uusap, alam po [nila] na gusto na rin ng gobyerno at ni pangulo na tapusin na yung giyera. Gusto po ni pangulo ng kapayapaan…kaya parati silang nag-uusap (MILF Vice Chairman Jaafar, MILF Chairman Murad and I always talk and they know that the government and President to put an end to the conflict. The President wants peace),” said Go, expressing hope that a lasting peace will be finally attained.

He also lauded the MILF for being open to the peace process.

He added that efforts to reach out to the National People’s Army (NPA) for the resumption of peace talks are underway and appealed for sincerity to the communist group.

He recalled that even when President Rodrigo R. Duterte was still mayor of Davao City, he accompanied the latter several times in going to the mountains to talk to communists. He added that there had been a trust between the communist group and then mayor Duterte such that they have met with them even without bodyguards.

“At alam niyo kung gaano ka sincere si Pangulo sa pag-uusap na ito. Sana kayo rin, equally (I hope that you reciprocate the President’s sincerity),” Go said, referring to the NPA.

Sincere approach, he said, comes with various government projects such as the livelihood assistance offered by local government units, among others.

The President has already directed the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to talk to the local government units and the military to help NPA members lead new lives, he said, adding that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has also been tasked to study how they can help distribute lands.

“Tulad dito, tungkol sa palm oil, bibigyan ng seedlings ng government, pero saan mo naman itatanim ‘yan kung wala namang lupa (Like the distribution of palm seedlings, where can beneficiaries plant the seedlings if they have no lands),” Go said.

Go went on to say that the Department of Interior and Local Government and Department of National Defense have partnered for the “Balik Baril” Program which aims to encourage rebels to surrender their firearms to the government in exchange for peace and new beginnings.

Too early for politics

Meanwhile, Go brushed aside questions about politics saying he does not want to talk about a possible senatorial run and that it is still too early to talk about politics despite the endorsements by many groups and the President himself.

“Unang una po, hindi po ako handa tumakbo kasi di ko pinaghandaan. Hindi naman ako politico – wala akong pera, wala akong pang-ikot. Wala akong panahon kasi marami po akong trabaho. Ang kaya kong gawin sa ngayon ay mag trabaho kay Pangulo and manilbihan sa Pilipino. Trabaho lang po muna ako (Foremost, I am not ready because I have not prepared for it. I am not a politician, I don’t have money to go around. I also don’t have time to do so because I have so much work to do for the President and the people)” Go said.

Go, however, thanked President Duterte for his endorsement and to MILF’s heartwarming words about him.

MILF Central Committee first vice chairman Ghazali B. Jaafar earlier expressed his support for Go, if he decides to run for senator in next year’s polls.

Jaafar, who is also chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, hailed Go, the President’s most-trusted aide, as “a man of integrity and competence”. (PNA)

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