EDUCATION Secretary and Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio slammed on Thursday, March 30, 2023, ACT Teachers Party-list Representative France Castro for pushing for the resumption of peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) despite recent attacks by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Masbate, which have disrupted classes.

In a statement, Duterte said Castro’s advocacy for peace negotiations only confirmed that she is a “fake” representative of learners, educators and other members of the education sector in Congress.

Duterte noted that the recent NPA attacks in the province do not underscore the necessity of resuming peace talks. Instead, she believes that the incidents emphasize the need for a collective effort to safeguard learners from threats posed by the NPA.

“Castro’s assertion that the peace negotiations would address the root causes of the armed conflict was ludicrous. Instead, it would only give legitimacy to the absurdity of the terrorism perpetrated by the armed wing of the NDFP, the NPAs,” said Duterte.

“Negotiating with the NDFP is always doomed to fail. Malinaw sa kasaysayan na ang magbebenepisyo lang ng peace talks ay ang NPA at mga grupong katulad ng ACT Teachers,” she added.

(Negotiating with the NDFP is always doomed to fail. It is clear in history that only the NPA and groups like ACT Teachers will benefit from peace talks.)

The DepEd said the NPA’s activities in the province have led to the suspension of classes in six towns, affecting over 55,000 learners, as well as 2,815 teachers and school staff.

Castro acknowledged that the attacks were condemnable and suggested that an independent probe by forensic experts and the Commission on Human Rights should be conducted to determine the true perpetrators of the attacks.

“These incidents also highlight the need for the resumption of the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to address the root causes of the armed conflict,” she said.

The word war between Duterte and Carpio began when the latter called on the government to hire 30,000 new teachers and construct 50,000 new classrooms annually, instead of focusing on red-tagging.

In response, Duterte said Castro’s calls were both “unrealistic and impossible.”

“While these are pursued along with the implementation of other essential reforms, DepEd should not only be limited to dispensing old-fashioned solutions but must also innovate. May I reiterate that ACT Teachers’ suggestions were both unrealistic and impossible — presented to shame the government and deceive the public into believing that the hiring of teachers and increasing the education budget were their ideas,” Duterte said.

“The department will not surrender or fall for the mad ruse of a party-list group that has mastered the art of duplicity,” she added.

Castro maintained that her proposal is “highly reasonable and urgent,” and that it could have been addressed by past administrations, including that of Vice President Duterte’s father, former President Rodrigo Duterte. (SunStar Philippines)