Davao folk more hopeful on GPH-MILF peace process than with GRP-NDFP talks

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 July) – Dabawenyos believe the government’s peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will more likely succeed than that with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), results of a survey conducted by the University of Mindanao’s Institute of Popular Opinion said.

The survey administered on 1,200 respondents from May 17 to 26 found that 40 percent of them said they do not believe a “final peace agreement” with the NDFP will be achieved.

Thirty-eight percent said a “final peace agreement” with the MILF is not possible.

The government and the MILF already signed a peace agreement in March 2014. Titled the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, it provides for, among others, the legislation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). But the previous Congress sidelined the BBL after the Mamasapano tragedy in January 2015 where 44 police commandos, 17 MILF fighters and five civilians died.

“It was observed that there are more Dabawenyos who withhold conviction on the peace initiatives with the Moros than with NPAs. Perhaps, they are influenced by the gestures of the two camps. So far, no military engagements with Moro rebels were reported, this is in contravention with the NPA’s case,” the survey said.

It added, “The MNLF/MILF perhaps are viewed as more serious groups relative to making peace than the communists.”

Last April 29, the New People’s Army, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, attacked a box plant, plastics plant and ranch in Davao City owned by the Lorenzo family.

An improvised explosive device planted by the rebels along the road killed a fish vendor.

UM-IPO director for quantitative studies Adriam Tamayo said the erosion of trust was more on the communists for their perceived inconsistencies in the peace process.

The fifth round of talks between government (GRP) and NDFP in the Netherlands that was scheduled on May 27 to June 2 was canceled after the GRP withdrew citing “lack of enabling environment conductive to the peace negotiations”.

In a press release, the Office of the Presidential adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said President Rodrigo Duterte has granted pardon to NDFP consultants, most of whom had been imprisoned for over 10 years.

Pardoned were NDF consultants Emeterio Antalan, Ricardo Solangon, Joel Ramada, Apolonio Barado, Generoso Rolida, Manolito Matricio, Josue Ungsod, Sonny Marbella, Jose Navarro, and Arnulfo Boates.

But the release of NDFP consultants Eduardo Sarmiento and Leopolodo Caluza were withheld pending completion of their court documents.

Meanwhile, Raul Villar, Armando Vidar, and Juanito Itaas were listed among those for release.

GRP panel head Silvestre Bello III said the latest batch of releases is part of the continuing commitment of the government to release detained rebels on humanitarian grounds, the OPAPP press release said.

“This is in accord with the process that will eventually lead to a general amnesty proclamation once we reach a final peace agreement with the communist rebels,” Bello said.

“We are continuing to work on the releases of the sick, elderly, those long detained and the women as the peace negotiations progress,” he added. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)

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