EastMinCom shows support for localized peace talks with NPA

The Eastern Mindanao Command hopes that local commanders of the New People’s Army will consider the localized peace talks to address the core issues of the communities, particularly those located in the hinterlands.

Speaking in yesterday’s AFP-PNP press briefing held at Royal Mandaya hotel, Maj. Ezra Balagtey spokesperson of EastMinCom, said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Interior and Secretary Eduardo Ano already gave the go signal for the local government units to engage communist guerrillas in local peace negotiations.

“This will be our thrust but as far as the mechanism is concerned, we haven’t received yet,” he said. “In fact, we haven’t received any directive from President Rodrigo Duterte as far as pushing for the localized peace talks.’

But he said that most of the LGU officials they’ve talked to are warm to the idea of localized peace talks.

He said that they already informed the ground army commanders to adopt and support the localized peace talks.

“So far, we haven’t receive for now the take of the commanders on what the local government units are pushing for in the localized peace talks,” he further said.

Ano said they will push for localized peace talks with communist rebels if the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF) will stall.

On Monday, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, the commander of EastMinCom, said they will continue their peace and development programs in the far-flung barangays to weaken the foothold of the NPA.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), told reporters at the sidelines of the AFP-PNP Press Corp Southern Mindanao Media Fellowship on Monday night held at COA XI that Mayor Sara Duterte has already stopped the localized peace talks with the armed rebels operating in the hinterlands of the city.

Madrigal said that the community support program (CSP) teams of the different line battalions under the command have already been deployed to further help and provide services in the far-flung communities together with the efforts of the local government unit and agencies.

“On programs and services, we have already done Serbisyo Caravan in Davao Oriental also in Compostela Valley and in Caraga region,” he added. “In Caraga region, we have already a peace plan for the whole region,” he said. “We have combined the peace and development plan so that it becomes a peace and development plan.”

“Some of the issues that have to be addressed on the peace plan will come from the development plan (addressing IP concerns, law enforcement and other programs) and issues on the NPA conflicted area,” he further said.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio actually initiated local peace talks with the local NPA commanders. However, that plan was scuttled when President Duterte moved to declare the rebel group as a terrorist organization. Instead, she introduced Peace 911, which is a multi-dimensional approach to development in the city’s rebel-infested areas.

Pressed for her reaction on whether or not she will support the localized peace talks being pushed by the national government, Mayor Duterte said, “that ship has sailed.”

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