DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 1 Nov) – Despite the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) being put on hold for five months already, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said he supports the localized peace efforts of his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, with the New People’s Army (NPA), as he said he is “not about ready to give up everything and anything in the altar of peace” for the country.
Mayor Duterte recently created the Davao City Peace Committee that will negotiate with NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
The President told a media briefing upon arrival from his two-day working visit in Japan Tuesday evening that he encouraged Mayor Duterte to pursue negotiations with the communist guerillas while he encouraged the NPA rebels to return to the fold.
“To the NPA, do not take it so badly. You are not compelled to do this but this is for those who want to take a rest. If you are tired of killing another human being, you are always invited to go back to mainstream, come back here and I will take care of you, and eventually just to prepare you for the entry into the mainstream society,” he said.
The President said the government is willing to take in the rebel returnees and even assured they will get a share of the 5,000 housing units of the National Housing Authority and job opportunities “but you have to work. This is not an honorarium thing. You have to work for it.”
The supposed fifth round of peace talks between the government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) in the Netherlands was cancelled last May supposedly for lack of an environment “conducive for peace negotiations” that President Duterte had asked from the NPA.
Citing the reasons for the cancellation of the peace talks, Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Jesus Dureza pointed to the noticeable upscale of incidents of offensive attacks by the NPAs throughout the country; the seeming perception of the bigger public that these NPA operations are in open and public defiance of President Duterte who has consistently accommodated them in unprecedented ways; the renewed surfacing of public apprehension questioning the sincerity of the CPP/NPA/NDF in the peace talks; the public admissions of some panel members of the CPP/NPA/NDF leaders that they have no control over their forces on the ground; the sudden and perceptible erosion of public support to the peace talks with strong messages received from the public to altogether stop peace negotiations; the clamor now to pursue instead localized peace talks; and the latest and recent President’s public statements that he will no longer sign agreements with the CPP/NPA/NDF if all of these will continue and not addressed.
Duterte said “nothing is really happening” after 50 years of the Leftist movement. “We can talk continuously with the Left,” Duterte said.
In a statement issued on February 26, NPA-Southern Mindanao spokesperson Rigoberto F. Sanchez said they were open to hold talks with Mayor Duterte, saying these are “auspicious” in light of a series of gunfights between communist rebels and government troops in Paquibato and Calinan Districts early this year.
“The NPA would gladly discuss any matter that she would like to take up with the revolutionary movement, the duties and responsibilities of the people’s democratic government, the role of the NPA, the ongoing all-out war of the AFP, and the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations,” he said.
Sanchez added they recognize the mayor’s willingness to talk to the NPA as a group and not as individuals to achieve substantial gains in the peace process. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)