In an interview on Friday with The Chiefs program aired over One News Cignal TV and hosted by The STAR editor-in-chief Amy Pamintuan, Dureza said with the cancellation of negotiations between the government and the NDF headed by Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Ma. Sison, the Duterte administration has shifted to the so-called localized peace talks.
Facebook/Jesus Dureza, File photo
Government shifts to localized peace talks — Dureza
Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) - July 22, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Despite President Duterte’s cancellation of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the shift to local negotiations with rebel leaders, the doors for peace remain open, according to presidential adviser on the peace process Jesus Dureza.

In an interview on Friday with The Chiefs program aired over One News Cignal TV and hosted by The STAR editor-in-chief Amy Pamintuan, Dureza said with the cancellation of negotiations between the government and the NDF headed by Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Ma. Sison, the Duterte administration has shifted to the so-called localized peace talks.

Dureza said the local talks are now headed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), which will supervise all local officials to conduct negotiations with New People’s Army (NPA) units in their areas of jurisdiction.

“In the meantime, our talks with Joma Sison have been cancelled already. Cancelled. Wala na. But the doors to peace talks remained open. Localized. But you know, this whole thing is being engaged by the local government units (LGUs). Principally under the leadership of the DILG,” Dureza said.

“We can still continue working… when the enabling environment is there,” Dureza said.

Dureza said Duterte’s earlier pronouncement that the NPA should stop attacking government forces and stop revolutionary tax collection should be upheld by the rebels.

“These are the things that have to be taken into account if we finally decide to resume negotiations with them. Focus now is on dealing with the locals,” Dureza said.

The Army reported that an NPA leader in Southern Tagalog surrendered to authorities in Occidental Mindoro yesterday and signified his intention to join the peace talks with officials of LGUs.

Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade, commander of the Mindoro Island-based 203rd Army brigade, identified the NPA leader as Ronnie Ferrer alias Ka Art, medical officer and secretary of the Mindoro-based NPA rebels.

“He surrendered yesterday to combined Army and police elements in Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro,” Parlade said.

Ferrer is among the key NPA leaders in Mindoro who have signified their intention to negotiate with local officials following the government’s cancellation of the resumption of peace negotiations with the NDF.

Ferrer was trasferred from the headquarters of the Army’s 76th Infantry Battalion in Abra de Ilog to Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro.

“We are expecting at least six more senior NPA leaders to surrender yesterday but they did not as they were prevented from coming down from their mountain lairs by flooding streams and rivers,” Parlade said.

Meanwhile, military sources said the CPP-NPA-NDF leadership would allegedly send unarmed rebels to act as agitators at the protest rallies during the 3rd State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Duterte on Monday.

Sources said the communist leaders want Monday’s anti-SONA rallies to result in violent confrontations between the rallyists and the crowd control personnel of the police and military.

“We have reports that they are sending in their unarmed regular fighters to spearhead the protest marches of members of their legal fronts on Monday for the purposes of agitating our anti-riot police and military personnel,” one senior intelligence official said.

He said that police and military personnel who would be assigned to secure the SONA area were ordered to exercise maximum tolerance at all times in their dealing with rallyists.

Another measure being considered to derail the CPP-NPA-NDF plot is for the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to deploy all-women members of the uniformed services to face the rallyists.

With the policewomen and female soldiers at the frontline, NPA agitators will think twice before harming them.

“If the agitators will try to initiate contact and harm our all women anti-riot personnel, their planned anti-government propaganda will boomerang at them,” he said.

Under the localized peace talks, Dureza said the LGUs can deal directly with the NPA rebels in their localities.

“Local government units can deal with their own NPAs there in their own areas… there are areas that want to talk. We will see how this is going to work out,” Dureza said.

“The framework has been agreed upon. Probably, an executive order will be issued… But in the meantime, we already have previous mechanisms, the comprehensive integration program has been enhanced and is being run by the DILG,” Dureza said.

Dureza said the government has gone the farthest in its peace negotiations with the NDF-CPP-NPA, particularly with Sison’s group.

But because of so many things that happened on the ground, Dureza said Duterte cancelled the talks. 

He said the national government can provide support to the LGUs and the communist rebels who wish to return to the fold of the law.

“We can provide support to them on the national scale for those who would like to return to the mainstream. The other word for that is surrenderees. But we don’t use those words,” Dureza said.

As the President’s main man in charge of keeping and finding peace, Dureza said that peace is something that should come from the heart of an individual. – With With Jaime Laude

NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC FRONT PEACE TALKS
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