NDFP-Southern Mindanao calls localized peace talks a “surrender package”

PEACE. Members of the New People’s Army welcome Davao City Mayor and Presidential frontrunner Rodrigo Duterte upon his arrival to receive Army Private First Class Edgardo Hilaga of the 7th Infantry Battallion in an upland village in Tulunan, North Cotabato on April 26, 2016. Hilaga was freed by the NPA after five days in captivity. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/16 July) – The National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Southern Mindanao Region (NDFP-SMR) has rejected the localized peace talks now being pushed by the Duterte administration calling it a “surrender package” and a “hollow attempt to draw a veil over the ravages of Martial Law in Mindanao and the escalating bloodbath of Oplan Kapayapaan affecting millions of civilians in the country.”

In a statement, NDFP-SMR spokesperson Rubi del Mundo said the proposed mode of negotiations, which is awaiting an executive order from Malacañang setting the guidelines, “is but a smokescreen to obscure the fact that Duterte has never been serious in addressing the root causes of the Filipino people’s armed resistance and is only predisposed in the complete capitulation of the revolutionary movement.”

She added there is no room for a democratic discourse or opposition under the Duterte administration with the increasing number of civilian death toll.

She said the New People’s Army units in Davao City had rejected Mayor Sara Duterte’s invitation for localized peace talks with her Davao City Peace Committee created last year.

The mayor said she will no longer pursue localized peace talks but focus instead on extending development programs in insurgency-affected areas.

She said it would be counterproductive to the existing programs currently undertaken by the Task Force Peace 911 or Peace 911 created in May this year to replace the peace committee.

Del Mundo said all NPA commanders and fighters in the country have thrown their support to the stand of their national leadership that the stalled talks between government (GRP) and the NDFP must push through in a foreign venue.

“A substantive agenda patterned in neoliberal reactionary development plans essentially pre-empt and reject whatever economic or political gains the masses hope to have in the negotiations. So if not for the benefit of the masses or the ‘local fighters’ leadership,’ for whom then will the local peace talks serve?” she said.

She said the President appeals “to the corrupt nature of his fellow bureaucrat capitalists by encouraging them to subvert previously agreed-upon guidelines and machineries and the advances borne out of the past 25 years.”

She said he intends to isolate the many local and national politicians who are supportive of the GRP-NDFP negotiations and paint them as “anti-peace or communist sympathizers.”

“While he prattles senselessly about wanting to make peace a reality, he continues his crackdown against the homeless and the unemployed in the towns and cities and dispatches fascist AFP battalions to sow terror in the countryside and drive away Lumad and peasants from their land and livelihood,” she said.

Government will pursue local peace talks if the rebel leaders continue to ignore the conditions set by President Rodrigo Duterte such as the holding of negotiations in the country instead of in a foreign venue.

Duterte also told the rebels to stop collecting “revolutionary tax” and staging attacks, confine their fighters to their camps and junk their demand for a coalition government.

Palace spokesperson Harry Roque said the guidelines state that the localized peace negotiation “is nationally orchestrated, centrally directed and locally supervised and implemented,” should not compromise the constitutional integrity and sovereignty, and shall cover the NPA, its organs of political power and Militia ng Bayan for a complete and genuine resolution of the local armed conflict.

It cites the constitutional mandate of the state to protect public safety, civilian welfare, critical infrastructure and private properties and rule of law and order at all times even if both parties agree to a ceasefire, he said.

Roque also mentioned “government goodwill, full amnesty package based on disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration to the mainstream of society.”

He said the substantive agenda will be based on the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan and Philippine Development Program 2040. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)