Sara Duterte slammed for bid to exempt Davao City from truce, peace talks

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 December) – The National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Southern Mindanao Region (NDFP-SMR) has slammed City Mayor Sara Duterte for asking the national government to exclude this city from the ceasefire and the resumption of peace talks.

Rubi Del Mundo, NDFP-SMR spokesperson, said the presidential daughter’s contradictory opinion against the plan of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) to reopen the peace table with the NDFP “shows her wayward intolerance to human rights and justice.”

Both the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the government declared a 16-day unilateral holiday truce starting from December 23, 2019 to January 7, 2020.

On Monday, the mayor asked the Duterte administration to exclude the city from the coverage of the GRP-NDFP peace talks, claiming it would only “dampen the gains” of her local peace initiative called “Peace 911.”

“To be covered by the ceasefire or the peace negotiations will only disrupt and threaten the gains of our process of peace and development in communities formerly controlled by the terrorists,” she said.

She claimed that Peace 911, the comprehensive peace-building program of the local government for conflict-affected areas in the city, had successfully “defeated the communist insurgency” in Paquibato District and in Barangay Dominga, Calinan District.

She said the civilian-led Peace 911 introduced the “peace economy,” which capacitated the Lumads in farming and marketing their products directly to buyers.

Roads, bridges, health centers and schools were opened due to Peace 911, Duterte said.

But in a statement on Wednesday, Del Mundo said the supposed “gains” of Peace 911 merely “deodorized the horrid stories of harassments, psywar, forced and fake surrenders of civilians as NPA members and forced recruitment to CAFGU (Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit), Alamara and Bagani paramilitary forces.”

Duterte blamed the previous attempts to arrive at a peace agreement to the alleged lack of sincerity of the communists in ending their armed struggle.

The mayor urged the national government not to return to the peace table with the NDFP as “sincerity is a strange word” to them.

“To believe that they desire a peaceful end to the insurgency problem would be playing ignorant of their bloody habit — how they slaughtered countless civilians in the past and made many countryside communities suffer from poverty and underdevelopment, and blaming the government for it,” she added.

She said the communists continue to “manipulate and turn communities to rise against the government, propagate fear, inflict abuses, extort, and execute and murder civilians through its deranged brand of revolutionary justice.”

Del Mundo said that Duterte “wrongly blamed” the alleged failure of the GRP-NDFP talks to the “countless criminal acts and treachery” of the NPA, the CPP’s armed wing.

According to the rebel leader, it was the military that allegedly violated “GRP’s ceasefire declarations, which only forced the NPA units to engage in self-defense.”

“Her diatribe against talking with the revolutionary forces shows her wayward intolerance to human rights and justice. She’s in fact happier to gag activists, kowtow to Chinese imperialist economic aggression, close Lumad schools and pamper the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” del Mundo said.

President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation 360 on November 23, 2017 terminating peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDFP, for “lack of sincerity on the part of the rebels.” Both sides were scheduled to hold peace negotiations two days later, from November 25 to 27, 2017.

The President subsequently signed Proclamation 374, designating the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations.