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Leftist Cabinet members stick with Duterte

Leftist members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet continued to keep faith in his administration despite Mr. Duterte’s repeated threat to terminate peace negotiations with leaders of the  National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

In a statement on Friday, two days after Mr. Duterte again threatened to terminate the peace talks, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano said “the core foundation” of the Left’s “unity with the Duterte administration is based on the principle of instituting socio-economic reforms.”

Mariano was former chair of the leftist farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

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He said the Left’s advocacies — free land distribution and genuine agrarian reform — had been included in Mr. Duterte’s Philippine Development Plan legislative agenda and not just in the proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (Caser) that had been discussed by government and rebel peace negotiators.

Malacañang also earlier said Mariano and fellow leftist Cabinet members Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo and National Anti-Poverty Commission head Liza Maza continue to enjoy the President’s “full trust.”

‘Right-wing insurgent’

Mr. Duterte, Malacañang had said, had “no conflict” with the leftist members of his Cabinet as long as “they’re doing their jobs.”

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a former military man, had suggested last week that Mr. Duterte should immediately fire leftist Cabinet members in line with his threat to cancel the peace talks.

“We will continue to use our time pursuing genuine land reform than answering the baseless accusations of a right-wing insurgent masquerading as a concerned lawmaker,” Mariano said.

Maza, formerly of the leftist Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives, had said support between leftist Cabinet members and Mr. Duterte was unshaken despite “tension” between the leftists and military men who were now part of Mr. Duterte’s official family.

“I wouldn’t want to think that they are there to counter the Left,” Maza said of the retired military officials.

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