NPA willing to meet Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte on peace issues
DAVAO CITY – The New People’s Army (NPA) in Southern Mindanao has declared it is willing to face Mayor Sara Duterte to talk about the prospects of peace – at least in President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown – and will even be willing to suspend its attacks on government troops during the talks with her.
In a media statement, Rigoberto Sanchez, the spokesperson of the NPA’s regional operations command, said they would like to sit down with Mayor Duterte “(t)o pursue lasting peace and advance the welfare of the masses.”
(The) NPA (is) open to hold talks with Sara Duterte,” Sanchez said, adding that the rebel group’s declaration was meant to reciprocate the mayor’s gesture of wanting to negotiate for peace.
“The Regional Operations Command of the New People’s Army in Southern Mindanao reciprocates the gesture made by GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte by suspending for a few hours the NPA operations and ordering any NPA camp in NDF (National Democratic Front) territories in Davao City and nearby areas to host the talks with her at a mutually agreed time and date,” he said.
Sanchez said the NPA would be ready to discuss with Mayor Duterte “any matter that she would like to take up with the revolutionary movement, the duties and responsibilities of the people’s democratic government, the role of the NPA, the on-going all-out war of the AFP and the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.”
He also viewed the offer of talks as “auspicious” amid the series of clashes in Paquibato and Calinan districts about two weeks ago – which killed two soldiers and wounded over a dozen other government troops.
These clashes prompted the mayor to offer “a space of peace” to the NPA but added that she wanted to negotiate with the rebels as a group, and not as individuals.
“I am willing to listen, if the NPA is willing to talk,” adding that she had a plan that could help bring peace, at least here.
“…(B)ut I want to listen first to what you have to say. My offer is limited by my authority over the area of my responsibility,” Mayor Duterte said in her message to the rebels.
Her offer of peace came in the wake of her father’s firm stand not to resume formal negotiations with the rebels yet.
“The revolutionary forces recognize Sara Duterte’s willingness to talk to the NPA as a group and not to individuals amid the growing public clamor to resume the suspended GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and achieve substantial gains in the peace process,” Sanchez said.
However, he said the NPA felt threatened when Mayor Duterte warned that she would leave all to the military if the NPA declined her offer of peace.
“Mayor Sara must know by now that the AFP is a corrupt, wily and mercenary organization that makes a mockery of the peace process and continuously sabotages her father’s and the NDFP’s efforts at peace every chance it gets,” Sanchez said.
Despite this, he said that the NPA has been looking forward to a meeting with the city executive to find common ground for the welfare of the people of Davao.
City Information Officer Jefry Tupas said Mayor Duterte had received the NPA’s response. “She is carefully looking into it and will come up with a statement in the coming days,” he said.
The military and the police said they were supporting the mayor’s desire to have peace with the rebels.
“That’s a welcome move, we welcome the development. We will be supporting the initiative of Mayor Inday Sara Duterte” Maj. Ezra Balagtey, the spokesperson of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command based here, said.
“There will be adjustments but we will obey” Balagtey added.
City police director, Senior Supt. Michael John Dubria, said the mayor’s move was “geared towards the good of the people and the city.”
“We are looking forward to a positive result,” Dubria said. SFM
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