DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 April) – City Mayor Sara Duterte lashed out at Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao for criticizing her for her opposition to the resumption of peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, saying her position reflected the sentiment of most Dabawenyos.
The mayor had asked her father, President Rodrigo R. Duterte, to reconsider his decision to resume talks with the NDFP, saying it’s “counterproductive and plainly useless.”
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the younger Duterte said her assessment was based on her wisdom gained as city mayor and reflected the sentiments of the majority of Dabawenyos.
The mayor served as vice mayor from 2007 to 2010, was mayor from 2010 to 2013, and was again elected as mayor in 2016.
Casilao accused the mayor of “toeing the line of the military and the Duterte government’s Security Council and the defense department,” agencies that the lawmaker said wanted to sabotage the potential resumption of peace talks.
But the mayor said Casilao’s remark shows how he has “designated himself as the mouthpiece and the attack dog of the groups responsible for a long list of terroristic activities against the people and the state over the past 40 years.”
“I do not need to kowtow to the military or read a document to give my thoughts on the peace talks. My assessment is based on the wisdom I have gained as Mayor and is actually reflective of the sentiments of the majority of Dabawenyos,” she said.
The mayor’s objection came after the burning of 10 heavy construction equipment worth P65 million in a series of attacks in Calinan, Buhangin, and Paquibato Districts here last March 31 and April 1, and other attacks by the New People’s Army (NPA), armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
She called the lawmaker an “aberration in government” and his “pontification comes straight from the political propaganda playbook of the terrorists.”
“Instead of working to help the workers and farmers he is supposed to represent in Congress, Casilao is now serving as the representative of the terrorists. His colleagues in the House of Representatives should expel him,” she said.
She said the lawmaker must resign and join the communist movement if he continues to attack the government, which he is supposed to be part of.
“Finally, I urge Mr Casilao to please tell the international fact finding solidarity mission — which was composed of NPA sympathizers, by the way — to put in their report that I said NPA terrorists and disorderly picketers in Davao City do not deserve rights accorded to human beings,” she said.
The mayor created the Davao City Peace Committee in 2017 to negotiate with communist guerrillas operating in the city but the localized peace talks did not push through after the President canceled the peace negotiation two days before it would resume on November 25 to 27 and then issued Proclamation 374 declaring the CPP and the NPA as terrorist organizations.
During the Annual Plenary Session of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao on Monday, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said he respects the statement of Mayor Duterte.
“I respect the statement of Mayor Sara because she knows why she has to say it but in this democracy, everyone is entitled to his opinion. She has a task to do as a mayor to protect the citizenry of Davao,” he added.
He said they welcome those statements because they “provide a more vigilant environment as we continue with the negotiations.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)