DAVAO CITY, Philippines – City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said she is willing to go to the countryside to talk with the leaders of the communists movement operating in Davao City.
“I don’t think they will ask for me, but if they do, why not. It’s not a problem,” she said.
The newly-formed local peace committee, called Davao City-Local Peace Committee (DC-Peace), met for the first time with Duterte-Carpio on Tuesday, October 24 at the Davao City Hall.
The local peace committee has identified three commanders of the New People’s Army operating in Davao City to reach out to in a bid to negotiate talks with communists.
“There were three identified commanders of the NPAs and we targeted to reach out the three of them to explore if they are willing to talk,” Duterte-Carpio said.
She said the new committee deems the commanders can talk to the government because “we expect them to have control over their people.”
However, the mayor said it still depends on the response of the communists if the three commanders will be the main persons with whom the DC PEACE will talk to.
She said the peace committee will try to contact the NPA leaders “from today until November 17.”
In a previous Facebook interview with Fidel Agcaoili, chairperson of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace panel, he said they maintained that the peace negotiations can be held “only at the national level with the duly-appointed and authorized negotiating panel.”
“Who will they talk to? Are they authorized?” Agcaoili said.
Letter to OPAPP
Atty. Raul Nadela Jr., Chief of Staff of the City Mayor said they will write the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process to express their intent to do the localized talks.
“Although it’s not encouraged, it’s not illegal to hold local peace process, in fact it is sanctioned by the local government code,” Nadela added.
He said their aim is to “attain peace while waiting for the government” to resume talks with the communists.
READ: Gov’t peace consultant hands-off in local talks with Reds
Limited to Davao City
The local chief executive clarified that the talks will be limited to issues in Davao City.
If the NPAs came from other areas, the mayor said, they will be sent back to their local government units “if they are interested.”
“We we are asking them is not to surrender, what we are asking them is to sit down with us and talk how we can work together,” she said.
The city mayor has floated the idea of the localized peace talks with the communists early this year.
In a statement on February, the NPA in Regional Operations Command in Southern Mindanao region (NPA-SMR) said they are “open to hold talks” with Duterte-Carpio.
The statement announced of a suspension of NPA operations for a few hours and ordered “any NPA camp in NDF territories in Davao City and nearby areas to host the talks with her at a mutually agreed time and date.”
Rigoberto Sanchez, NPA-SMR spokesperson in the statement dated February 26 said they are willing to discuss any matter that Mayor Duterte-Carpio would like to take up.
“The NPA in Southern Mindanao is looking forward to a substantial discussion with Mayor Duterte on the common ground of advancing the welfare of the masses, especially in Davao City,” Sanchez said. (davaotoday.com)