Año: LGUs support localized peace talks
Various local government units have expressed their support for the holding of localized peace talks, according to Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año.
“We have received good feedback from LGUs as they expressed their willingness to play a more significant role in ending hostilities in their respective localities,” Año said in a statement on Thursday.
Año added that the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) and the Philippine Councilor’s League (PCL) have also shown their support for the localized peace talks, which President Rodrigo Duterte himself prefers.
PCL national chairman and Davao City Councilor Danny Dayanghirang said that it appears that councilors nationwide prefer the localized version of peace negotiations.
“The informal consensus of the Philippine Councilors League is that we are encouraging localized peace talks,” Dayanghirang said.
“We should give more elbow room for discussions at the local level to give peace a chance […] because the government and the rebels cannot continue to shoot at each other,” he explained.
He also suggested that rebels in the countryside might be better peace panel members than Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison, who has been in the Netherlands for decades since his self-exile.
“Instead of Sison who is not in the country anyway, local rebels could be in a better position to represent their group. Let the voice of the true local mass movements be heard in the panel,” he says.
LCP President and Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Paminutuan said the insurgency may end once LGUs address the socio-economic concerns of the rebels.
“In general, LGUs can help pursue peace especially in those areas with active insurgency through the implementation of social and economic programs with the help of funding from the national government,” Pamintuan said.
A week ago, Malacañang said the President will sign an executive order which will iron out the guidelines of the peace talks.
“Magkakaroon po ng executive order that will spell out the guidelines that were agreed upon yesterday,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Thursday.
The present administration sees localized peace talks as a better alternative, after stalled negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Philippine government (GRP).
Año also believes that government is exhausting all efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace with the communist rebels.
“We are not giving up on peace. We will pursue every avenue that we can utilize. Thus, we are pursuing localized peace talks to allow our brothers and sisters in the mountains to rejoin mainstream Philippine society,” he said.
The former armed forces chief of staff also expressed his frustration with left-wing leaders after the NDFP, the CPP, and the New People’s Army (NPA) have supposedly refused to abide with the “confidence-building measures,” which the government believes is essential to the success of peace negotiations.
“If Joma Sison and his minions give up on peace, we will instead talk to all the NPA ground units that are sincere in their desire to talk peace,” Año added.
However, leftist groups and lawmakers have expressed concerns about the project, saying that it might be open to abuse from LGUs and the army, especially after a ceremony for alleged NPA surrenderees made use of a fake NPA flag.
“These types of anomalies along with the collection of bounty for fake surrenderees would become rampant with the supposed localization of peace talks,” Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said in a previous report. /muf
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