NegOcc guv wants local peace talks with communist rebels
BACOLOD CITY – In an attempt to end conflicts that have spanned over five decades, Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lascon has decided to create a provincial peace panel that will hold exploratory dialogs with communist rebels.
According to Lacson, the peace panel will be a multi-sectoral body that will include the private sector, including the Church and the academe.
“This is in compliance with a national government directive and guided by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process,” he said.
The island of Negros is one of the areas in the country that have been hounded by the presence of communist rebels.
Lacson said the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte wants to end the communist armed conflict starting with the local level.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government has asked local governments in Negros Occidental to submit the composition of their peace panels.
So far, 14 out of 31 local government units have submitted their lists.
Lacson was set to issue an executive order to create a provincial peace panel.
Col. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said he supports Lacson’s move to give communist rebels a chance to air their frustrations against the government and find solutions to the problem.
Pasaporte said many rebels were demoralized after suffering some setbacks due to sustained government military operations.
Last May 13, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Cirilito Sobejana said he believed that war was not the answer to the problem to end insurgency.
“Nobody wins in a war. I don’t think it solves the problem,” he said. “There are other dimensions and factors to be addressed so that should be given focus,” he added.
Sobejana, who was in La Castellana town in Negros Occidental last week, said peace has been the aim of the National Task Force–Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
The task force, he said, is a convergence among the security sector and other partners in local government units and the civilian sector.
Asked if the pandemic has affected the Army’s drive against rebel forces, Sobejana said “all of us have been affected by the COVID-19.”
Sobejana said the AFP has allocated 30 percent of its manpower to support local government units in their battle against COVID-19.
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