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Davao City’s vote: resume peace talks with communists; don’t label them terrorists 

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 02 May) – President Rodrigo  Duterte called off the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF) in 2017 and declared the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New Peoples’ Army (NPA) as “terrorists” but in the city he served for three decades as mayor, vice mayor and representative of the 1st district to Congress,  79.9%  agree that government “should continue engaging in peace negotiations” with them, results of the Blue Vote 2022 off-campus, city-wide survey of the Ateneo de Davao University show. 

Out of 1,594 respondents,  79.9% agree that peace negotiations with the communists should continue, out of which 59.6 “strongly agree.”  Out of 8.8% who disagree, 4.8 “strongly disagree.” There are 5.8% who “do not wish to answer” and 3.3% who “neither agree nor disagree.”

Respondents were also asked if they agree with the statement that “the CPP-NPA-NDF should not be labeled a terrorist group.”  Of 39.1% who said they agree, 20.4% “strongly agree.” Out of 32.7% who disagree, 15.6 “strongly disagree.”  Fourteen per cent, however, “do not wish to answer” while 10.3% “neither agree nor disagree.”

The NDF represents the CPP and NPA in the peace negotiations. 

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 file photo by TOTO LOZANO

Respondents were also asked if they agree with this statement:  “red-tagging (labeling people as communists) often conducted by the military is a way for the people to know who are working against the state.” 

According to the results, 50.5% agree, of which 23.1% “strongly agree” while 20.6% disagree, of which 12% “strongly disagree”. There are 12.5% who “do not wish to answer” and 12.1% who “neither agree nor disagree.”

These were among the “perceptions about general statement often heard in many ordinary discussions” under the “Backdrop items and general perceptions on selected national, political and socio-economic issues” asked of the respondents in the survey conducted on April 5 to 13 and 16 to 18.  The results were released on April 29.

On March 24 this year, the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division declared Davao City “insurgency free,” as it claimed the city has been cleared of NPA presence. 

Courtesy of ADDU Blue Vote 2022

According to the Blue Vote 2022 survey results, an overwhelming majority  here would vote for  Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for President (79.8%) and Sara Duterte for Vice President (89.3%), Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte for Mayor (86%) and Paolo Duterte for a second term as 1st district Representative (82.93%), if elections were held on the survey dates. 

President Duterte started his administration on June 30, 2016 with a commitment to resume peace negotiations with the NDF but called off the peace talks through Proclamation 360 issued on November 23, 2017, two days before the talks were to resume in Norway to deliberate on the common drafts of the 

Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER).

On December 5, 2017, Duterte issued Proclamation 374 declaring the CPP-NPA as a “designated/identified terrorist organization” under RA 10168 or “The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.”

Courtesy of ADDU Blue Vote 2022

Like her father,  Mayor Sara Duterte does not want the peace talks with the NDF to resume. 

In December 2019, she asked the national government to exclude the city from the coverage of the holiday ceasefire or the peace negotiations with the NDF, claiming it would only “dampen the gains” of her Peace 911 program. 

“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,” the mayor said in a statement. 

The mayor urged the national government not to return to the peace table with the NDF, claiming “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 communist rebels 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.”

Sara’s brothers  – Sebastian, the Vice Mayor who is running for mayor and Paolo, who is seeking reelection as 1st district Representative – have issued statements similar to Sara’s. 

Rubi Del Mundo, NDFP-Southern Mindanao Region spokesperson, said the presidential daughter’s “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. 

(Carolyn O, Arguillas / MindaNews)

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