DAVAO CITY—Mayor Sara Duterte has canceled the planned localized talks with the communist New People’s Army (NPA) days after President Duterte declared the armed rebel group and its political umbrella a terrorist organization.
Instead, the mayor said she would convert the local body she created earlier to negotiate with local NPA commanders to engage communities in far-flung areas to talk about issues that concern them.
The President’s daughter had created the Davao City Peace Committee (DC Peace) the previous month in an attempt to strike a peace deal with the NPA as the prospect of talks between the national government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines dimmed. The Davao mayor was also eyeing to strike a local ceasefire with the rebels in the city’s hinterlands.
Now, with the local talks called off, the mayor said the body would work as Davao City Advisory Committee for Peace and Development (DC Peace Dev).
“Since the policy of the government is never to negotiate with terrorists, what we are going to do is to talk to the community about (issues),” the mayor said.
“The city government will try to address the issues raised by the communities. We acknowledge they have issues with regard to the services of the government,” she added.
Lawyer Eliza Lapeña, DC Peace Dev spokesperson, said the body would push through with the visit to the city’s far-flung communities on Dec. 20. “It’s where the NPA had been known to operate,” she said. “We would build peace tables where communities can raise their concerns, and which the government will try to address.”
Mayor Duterte is set to issue an executive order reconstituting the DC Peace to DC Peace Dev. —FRINSTON LIM
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