EastMinCom to push for localized peace talks with Reds after Duterte scraps talks with finality

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 22 March) – After President Rodrigo Duterte had terminated the appointments of government peace negotiators holding talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), a military official here said Friday that they would push for the implementation of localized peace talks in a bid to address the root cause of conflict in areas perceived to be stronghold of the communists.

Lt. Col. Ezra Balagtey, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC), said the implementation of the localized peace talks is in line with the Duterte administration’s new “whole-of-nation approach” that aims to put an end to the 50-year armed struggle.

“We are in support to the local peace initiatives of some of our LGUs and national government agencies in Eastern Mindanao,” Balagtey said in a Facebook interview on Friday afternoon.

Balagtey cited some of the peace programs initiated by local government units that demonstrate and support the government’s goal of ending the communist insurgency across the country.

These were the Peace and Development Zones in Caraga region, and Davao’s Peace 911 – where he described as an example of “participative and inclusive governance” advocated by the local government units.

“This is whole-of-nation approach, wherein programs and activities of different member agencies will be synchronized and in support to each other. Our participation will depend on the convergence program that will be crafted. Where we’ll be needed, we will be there,” he added.

Balagtey added that the EastMinCom has expressed its full support to a new localized peace new panel that will be tasked to negotiate with the NDFP.

“The local government units have their own priorities and they know the issues and concerns that are causing conflict or being used by the terrorist group. We will always be in support,” he added.

Last March 18, President Rodrigo Duterte has terminated the appointments of the members of the government panel holding negotiations with the communists.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr., in a statement on Wednesday, said they “will reconstitute the panel at a national scope in accordance with the whole-of-nation approach we are advocating to achieve inclusive and sustainable peace.” (Mart Sambalud / MindaNews)