Army exec in Northern Samar supports peace talks with CPP
TACLOBAN CITY –– An Army official based in Northern Samar has expressed support over plans to renew peace talks between the national government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
Lt. Col. Juan Gullem, the commanding officer of the 20th Infantry Battalion based in Las Navas town, Northern Samar, said the peace talks between the national government and CPP officials, led by its founder Jose Maria Sison, would “harmonize” with the local peace talks that the military in Eastern Visayas was pursuing.
“I think there’s no problem with it. Maybe it will just harmonize or integrate the current localized peace talks being undertaken in the localities through the creation of Task Force ELCAC in every local government unit,” said Gullem in a text message.
ELCAC stands for End Local Communist Armed Conflict as contained under Executive Order 70 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, which calls for a “whole-of-nation” approach in ending the communist problem of the Philippines.
While he wants another round of peace talks between the government and the CPP, Gullem hoped that the venue is held in the country and not outside the Philippines as what happened in previous peace talk negotiations.
“The problem is internal to us. Any peace talks should be done within the territory of the Philippines,” he said.
Sison is seeking for a “neutral venue,” saying he could be arrested if he returns to the country.
Gullem said it’s about time the armed conflict sown by the communist group ends to pave the way for development, particularly in remote areas in Northern Samar, one of the poorest provinces of the country.
“As the saying goes, where there is peace, development occurs. Hence, the end of insurgency will surely result in sustainable development in this part of Northern Samar,” Gullem said.
Gullem’s area of responsibility, Northern Samar, has a strong presence of the communist New People’s Army, which often figured in armed encounters with government troops.
The latest encounter happened on November 20 which resulted in the death of one soldier in Las Navas town.
On Nov. 11, six government troops were killed in an ambush in Borongan City, Eastern Samar.
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