For Mayor Sara, Peace 911 instead of localized peace talks

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 07 July) — Mayor Sara Duterte will focus on extending development programs in insurgency-affected areas of the city than pursue localized peace talks with the communist guerillas as she proposed last year.

“We have already tried it and we have learned that it would be better if we deliver development initiatives and projects directly to the communities where they are most needed,” the City Information Office quoted the mayor as saying.

She said it would be counterproductive to the programs currently undertaken by the Task Force Peace 911 or Peace 911 that was created in May to replace the Davao City Peace Committee that she formed last year to talk with New People’s Army (NPA) rebels operating in the hinterlands in the city. The mayor promised livelihood and employment to the rebels then.

“The ship has already sailed and it would be counterproductive to stop right in the middle of our efforts to bring solutions to the social problems experienced by people in communities affected by the insurgency problem,” Duterte said.

Mayor Sara Duterte at the launching of Task Force 911 or Peace 911 at the Paquibato Elementary School in Davao City on May 10, 2018. Photo courtesy of the City Information Office of Davao Ciity.

She said her decision is final because pursuing the localized peace talks would squander the efforts and projects of the task force in areas affected by the communist insurgency. Peace 911 is “the implementing arm for all programs under the peace-building efforts of the city government.”

The Task Force Peace 911 or Peace 911was created through Executive Order No. 12 on May 10.

The mayor said the city government will focus on delivering development initiatives in communities, most especially in Paquibato District which for years has been NPA-influenced. Today the hinterland district is the task force’s area of convergence for projects.

The localized peace talks did not happen in December 2017 as initially targeted following its rejection by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the collapse of the supposed 5th round of talks between government (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) a month earlier.

But the mayor encouraged other local governments to negotiate with NPA rebels operating in their respective areas.

The GRP cancelled the November 25 to 27, 2017 peace talks, with Proclamation 360 of President Rodrigo R. Duterte “for lack of sincerity,” following an NPA ambush on November 9, 2017 that killed a four-month old Walysha Manchorao, and similar incidents.

The President subsequently signed Proclamation 374, designating the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and NPA as terrorist organizations.

The scheduled 5th round of talks was cancelled for the third time last month after President Rodrigo R. Duterte told his government panel to postpone it in order to consult the public and allow himself at least three months review the previously signed agreements such as the 1992 Joint Hague Agreement Declaration, 1995 Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, and 1998 Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)