DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The National Democratic Front of the Philippines on Saturday lauded Environmental Secretary Gina Lopez for her plan to work with the New People’s Army as a “positive gesture towards implementing genuine social and economic development programs in mining areas.”
In a statement, Randall Echanis, NDFP Consultant and a member of its Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms said Lopez’ move “could help address the plight of peasant and indigenous peoples communities affected by destructive large-scale foreign mining, especially in Mindanao.”
Echanis also floated the possibility of the NDFP working as the intermediary between Lopez and the NPA.
Meanwhile, another NDFP Consultant and RWC-SER member Alan Jazmines said Lopez’ input on environmental protection and rehabilitation is welcome in the next round of talks.
“Her inputs and suggestions on how to protect, preserve and rehabilitate the environment for use in rural and national industrialization could also be considered in the next round of formal talks,” Jazmines said.
Environmental protection, conservation, and compensation are major components of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms, that said to be the most contentious among the four agenda of the NDFP-GRP talks.
In a forum in Agusan on Thursday, Lopez announced her plans to work with the communists to develop mining communities in the area.
“I already asked the President if I can work with the NPA. In fact, I met them two days ago. I like the NPA. The guy we met was an ex-seminarian. We can’t market the place and do anything if there’s fighting and, at the end of the day, what do they want? They just want a better life,” Lopez was quoted in news reports.
“I love the NPA. They’re kind. I feel if you handle them the right way, they’ll be good because they’re also looking for ways to survive,” Lopez added.
The fifth round of formal talks between the government and the NDFP is set to begin on May 26
Meanwhile, as part of the acceleration of the peace talks, the RWC-SERs of both sides will meet on April 25 to discuss agrarian reform and rural development. (davaotoday.com)