DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio does not want a ceasefire with communist rebels in the city this holiday season.
This despite the declaration of a 16-day Christmas ceasefire with the communist rebels by the Duterte government.
The presidential daughter has also asked to exclude Davao City from the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) which is expected to formally reopen in January.
“We respectfully caution the Duterte administration over its move to reopen the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP),” Mayor Duterte-Carpio said in a statement on Monday, December 23.
She added that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed-wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), will maximize the temporary truce “to regain communities previously cleared of their presence, consolidate their forces, and derail the progress of existing government rural development projects.”
The mayor said while the moves for truce and to resume peace talks are commendable, these are “useless and deleterious to the accomplishments of our local peace initiative, the Peace 911.”
Peace 911 is the local peace and development initiative of Davao City government delivering government services and projects to communities reportedly influenced by the NPA. It piloted in Paquibato and Calinan districts, areas identified as stronghold of NPA guerrillas.
“To be covered by the ceasefire or the peace negotiations will only disrupt and threaten the gains of our process of peace and development in these communities formerly controlled by the (guerrillas),” she added.
Duterte-Carpio’s statement comes after her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, ordered a “unilateral and reciprocal ceasefire” with the CPP-NPA-NDF Sunday, December 22, as previously recommended by peace panels of both parties.
The ceasefire will last from the midnight of December 23, 2019 to 11:59 pm of January 7, 2020.
The Central Committee of the CPP said the ceasefire as “measures of good will and confidence building during the traditional celebrations of Christmas and New Year holidays.”
“The purpose of the reciprocal and unilateral ceasefires is to generate a positive atmosphere conducive to the holding of informal talks preparatory to the formal meeting to resume the peace negotiations,” the CPP said.
Meanwhile, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo describe the declaration as “reflection of the seriousness and commitment of the GRP, as well as a mark of goodwill on the part of the Commander-in-Chief.”
“The Office of the President looks forward to the possible resumption of peace talks with the NDF, achieve accord with the whole [CPP-NPA-NDF] coalition and ultimately, attain a lasting peace among the citizenry of our country,” Panelo added.
The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), a church-led platform supporting the GRP-NDFP peace process has lauded the recent developments for the resumption of the formal peace talks.
“The ceasefire also gives a chance for Filipinos, especially those living in conflict areas, to celebrate the holiday season, without fear and uncertainty. Such show of goodwill and confidence building from both sides, demonstrate their willingness to work for peace and hopefully resolve the 50-year old armed conflict,” PEPP said in a statement on Monday.
Last week, a total of 131 lawmakers have signed House Resolution 636 calling for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP formal talks. The resolution urges both parties to continue the negotiations on the basis of previous agreements made in the past.
The peace negotiations have been stalled since President Duterte signed Proclamation 360 formally terminating the peace talks with the NDFP on November 23, 2017. (davaotoday.com)