DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo expressed concern Friday over the spate of killings targeting farmers.
In an interview at the sideline of the 18th Women Summit held here, Taguiwalo said she hopes President Rodrigo Duterte would soon resume talks.
“Umaaasa sana tayo kasi may mga namamatay na naman (We are hoping that the peace talks would resume soon because the number of the casualties is increasing),” Taguiwalo said citing the case of a farmer couple who were killed by still unidentified assailants in Barangay Osmena in Compostela Valley Province, Thursday evening.
The two were members of Compostela Farmers Association, a local farmers’ group that is vocal against large-scale mining in the Compostela Valley province. CFA has also initiated local campaigns such as the call for genuine agrarian reforms and responsible mining.
“Karamihan sa mga namamatay ay mga magsasaka (most of those killed are farmers),” Taguiwalo said.
She said both the communists and the government are losing forces in the all out war declared by the government against the New People’s Army a month ago.
“At yun ang gusto nating mabigyan ng solution at sa pagbigay ng solusion yun ay kailangang pag-usapan bakit ba umaaklas ang mga tao, anong klaseng programa ang kailangang ipatupad ng gubyerno (And that’s what we hope to solve. And to solve that we need to talk about the reasons why the people are taking up arms, what kind of programs should the government implement),” she said.
Taguiwalo added she believes President Rodrigo Duterte knows fully well the root cause of the armed conflict.
“Alam naman ni President actually kung ano yun. He has been here for so long and he knows. he is a student of history so he knows the historical, structural and root cause of the armed conflicts,” she said.
Taguiwalo emphasized that the President should ensure that whatever programs and initiatives “should redound to the benefits not only of the government, but of the people.”
She added: “It is in the interest of the Filipino people that peace should be achieved so that development can be pursued.”
The President met with Left-leaning Cabinet officials including Taguiwalo, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, and Labor Secretary and chief peace negotiator Silvestre Bello III on February 20.
As to how it would be implemented, Taguiwalo said it would be President who would determine it.
“How to go about that, eh sya na yung magde-determine nun,” she said.
Duterte told reporters on Tuesday, that he will “think a thousand times” about the peace negotiations.
“I will think about it.. I will think a thousand times, then consult the Cabinet, including the Left leaning,” Duterte said.
Duterte said there will be a time to discuss the problem together with the Cabinet officials. He also stressed that the government’s interest “must prevail.”
“It’s best that we discuss it, not now, about this problem and navigate again this thorny water in our country, but government interest must prevail, government interest must prevail,” he said.
Human rights group Karapatan said 15 civilians were killed in a span of month since February 1, including two civilian commuters Roel Satingasin of Barangay Tamugan and Ariel Gelbero of Barangay Lamanan from Calinan district here.
“Every political killing is justified by the military with claims that victims are members of the NPA, and had been killed during ‘legitimate’ encounters. In the cities, we are being fed with a similar narrative – with the police justifying drug-related killings with stories of ‘nanlaban’ during ‘legitimate’ police operations,” Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General said in a statement. (davaotoday.com)