Mayor Sara no longer keen on local peace talks

By Lilian Mellejor

July 5, 2018, 7:14 pm

DAVAO CITY – Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is no longer keen on reviving her previous offer to hold local peace talks with the communist New People’s Army (NPA) but vowed to continue the city’s peace and development efforts in areas the communist insurgents maintain heavy presence in.

“Wala na’y plans for localized peace talks. We will be focusing on Paquibato,” the mayor said, referring to Paquibato district, a hotbed for NPA activities, where the local government recently launched a poverty alleviation initiative.

“Dili pwede atras abante ta sa atong trabaho. Biyaan unya sugdan na pud (We can’t move back and forth in our work. We tend to abandon then start again),” the mayor told reporters in an interview Thursday.

Duterte-Carpio had earlier suspended the local talks with the local insurgents following President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement to declare the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, a terrorist group.

In a statement Thursday, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza said the doors for the resumption of peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)--CPP-NPA's political wing--remain open.

But Dureza made it clear that any resumption of talks remains subject to the demands of President Rodrigo Duterte: that there will be no coalition government; there will be a stop in the collection of the so-called revolutionary tax; the venue of the talks will be local; there will be a ceasefire agreement in which armed NPA members are encamped in designated areas.

Dureza said localized peace arrangements may be pursued by local government units with insurgents in their respective areas of responsibility.

According to Dureza, this “way forward” in the stalled peace talks was decided upon, following the consolidation of various positions expressed during the command conference convened by President Duterte on Wednesday night in Malacañang.

Without the local talks, the city government cited that its development efforts have been gaining momentum in Paquibato in the last two months since the launching of Peace 911 on May 10.

Peace 911 is an initiative to bring better "social services, infrastructure, livelihood" and other forms of interventions.

Last week, Lt. Col. Darren Comia, commander of the Philippine Army’s 16th Infantry Battalion, said investors from the Japanese Oji Paper Company, and Taiwanese and Malaysian agri-industrial firms, visited Paquibato's Mapula and Salapawan villages to explore the possibility of putting up production plants.

Telecommunications firms Globe and Smart, have also visited the area recently to explore possibilities in putting up cell towers, Comia said. (Lilian C. Mellejor/PNA)