MANILA -- Peace talks, not the revival of an anti-subversion law, can help end the Philippines' decades-long communist insurgency, a left-wing lawmaker said Wednesday.
Solving the root causes of one of the world's longest-running Maoist campaigns will make the rebellion irrelevant, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said.
"Hanapin natin ano ba ang dahilan. Kaya nga ang Bayan Muna malinaw ang aming tayo, ituloy natin ang usapang pangkapayapaan. Meron nang nakahandang comprehensive agreements na sana ito yung lulutas," Zarate told ANC's Headstart.
(Let's look for the root causes. That's why Bayan Muna's stand is clear, let's move the peace talks forward. Comprehensive agreements are ready to address this.)
Also on Headstart, Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the proposed revival of the anti-subversion law sought to outlaw the armed rebellion and forces that fuel it.
"We are not attacking the political opposition. We are not attacking legitimate dissent," he said.
He also allayed fears that the proposed law would be similar to what happened during the martial law under former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
"There's a different context between dictatorship during the martial law period where legitimate political dissent were arrested," Malaya said.
Under the proposed law, an arrested person would have to be brought to court which is not present during martial law under Marcos, Malaya said.
Zarate said reviving the law would be dangerous especially to critics of the government.
The law was repealed in 1992 under the administration of former president Fidel Ramos. Malaya said this gave the communists greater space.
"The democratic space which they are using now fuels the support of the urban mass movement in the cities towards the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army in the hinterland," Malaya pointed out.
The DILG official said the NPA was able replenish rebels killed by government troops by sourcing new cadres from the urban mass movement.
Last week, Senator Ronald dela Rosa, panel chair of the Senate committee on public order, launched an investigation into leftist groups’ supposed recruitment of minors from colleges and universities.
Malaya said the problem with legal organizations is that they do not publicly repudiate the call of the Communist Party of the Philippines for armed struggle.
Zarate warned Malaya to be careful with linking legitimate organizations to the communist movement. Bayan Muna does not support the CPP or the NPA, he said.