Local peace efforts to continue regardless of talks: Mayor Sara

THE PEACE talks between the national government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front won’t have any bearing on the local Davao City Peace Committee (DC Peace), now named Peace 911.

Recently, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the government peace panel headed by Sec. Jesus Dureza to give the peace negotiation with the communist movement another go.

“We will amend the DC Peace and we will just add the words ‘implementing task force’ so that they will be the ones to oversee the projects that are needed there (in Paquibato),” she said.

She said the main strategy is to introduce development on the poor communities in the third district in the hopes of addressing the root cause of rebellion. The development program is community-centered and each project is suggested by the community through a series of public consultations.

The mayor also said they already identified some projects that were suggested by the communities themselves “because we are no longer talking to the NPA.”

Prior to the creation of the DC Peace, Mayor Duterte first broached the idea of a localized peace talks. This was shot down by the CPP central committee, which said that only the NDF peace panel is authorized to talk in behalf of the group.

Duterte’s call for working with the NPA came months after the group attacked and burned a packing plant in Barangay Mandug, Buhangin District in April.

The attack yielded a collateral casualty, with fish vendor Larry Buenafe killed when a remote-detonated mine exploded and included the man on his bike in its blast radius. The NPA had initially targeted a responding Simba tank from the Task Force Davao for its mine.

“But there is an existing executive order that they are labeled and considered as terrorist, and it (the order) is still effective,” she said. “If this will be lifted then we will again change our approach to them.”

“It will not affect whether or not there is a peace talks between the national government and CPP-NPA-NDF because the Peace 911 in the city is directed at implementing projects identified for Paquibato District (initially),” the mayor said.

She also credited the efforts of the military to persuade the former NPA members to surrender. There are three battalions in the city such as the 3rd IB, 16th IB and   89th IB, the newly activated battalion.

“They (battalions) have surrenders being held in their camps but they (rebels) did not surrender to me because I don’t accept their surrender if they don’t bring firearms,” she said.

The members were Peace 911 Ridgway Tanjili, DC-Peace chair, Davao City Archbishop Rev. Romulo Valles, Barangay Malabog chair Jessielito Areja, City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) head Ma. Luisa Bermudo, and Atty. Elisa Lapina of the City Legal Office.

In December last year, the members of the body visited Paquibato to consult with the communities on the kind of projects they want implemented in their respective areas.

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