Duterte ends Kadayawan 2013 rooting for peace talks

Aug. 19, 2013

duterte pamulak 2013

by Tyrone Velez

DAVAO CITY– On Sunday’s Pamulak sa Kadayawan Floral Parade, Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte pitched a call to the government to make serious strides in its peace talks with the communist group and Moro separatists.

The mayor made this point while saying he was thankful that the Kadayawan Festival ended on a peaceful note, after several days of jitters and uncertainties.

“Karun mag-ampo pud ko nga mapadali ang pakighinabi sa MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) nga matapos na (I pray that the talks with the MILF will be finished soon),” he said as the talks are now set to discuss the annex on power-sharing before reaching a final peace agreement towards granting autonomy for the Bangsamoro.

He also added that  “I am urging the national government nga i-revive nato ang atong istorya sa New People’s Army kay mosugot mog sa dili ang realided ana nia tang tanan diri (I am urging the national government that we revive our talks with the New People’s Army because whether you like it or not, the reality is we are all here).” Talks between the GPH and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines had been suspended since mid-2011.

That reality means facing the issues of displacements of indigenous peoples and Moro people in the midst of government campaigns for granting more US troops’ access to the country and counter-insurgency program such as Oplan Bayanihan.

Recent displacement cases included that of Agusanon Manobos who left Loreto town, Agusan del Sur after failing to get the support of local provincial authorities to address militarization in the area. Hundreds are currently staying at the city’s Bankerohan gym.

Also, fighting between government troops and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, an MILF breakaway group, took place last week in North Cotabato, displacing 2,000 civilians.

The talks with MILF is now near its completion with the signing of the wealth-sharing agreement which outlines the terms sharing of income from mineral and natural resources extraction between the government and the Bangsamoro autonomous entity.

But Duterte said in an earlier interview that government must open a window to talk peace with the communist movement, and criticized calls from the Presidential adviser to the peace process Teresita Deles who endorsed localized peace talks.

Deles in an interview with Davao media last August 9 said the government is still open to peace talks with the NDF as long as “we know where the talks are heading” and “(it) must be based on the realities on the ground to reduce violence.”

She also endorsed localized peace talks saying “local governments have primacy in deciding what will happen… but this does not replace peace talks.”

But Duterte said nothing would happen with localized talks, “Let me teach this people in the national government. This NPA, they are one unit, you have to talk to (NDF peace panel chair Luis) Jalandoni and (NDF peace adviser Joma) Sison. Let me tell this government that (the NDF) have their jurisdiction just as we do. We can do something here at the local level, but with localized peace talks nothing will happen because the structure itself is there and you have to follow the line of authority. Just as we do in the national government,” he said.

Silvestre Bello, who once led the government peace panel with the NDF and is now partylist representative of 1BAP, also criticized Deles’ remarks that the talks had gone nowhere, saying that during his time as peace panel chair, the government and the NDF signed ten agreements including the substantive issue of respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.

Rep. Bello is filing a priority House resolution to call for the resumption of peace talks and activate advisers from Congress and peace advocates.

He said, “(I)f we want people to negotiate with us, we have to show these people that we honor our commitments, otherwise nobody will negotiate with us anymore if we do not know how to honor agreements.”

Bishop Felixberto Calang, chair of InPeace Mindanao and member of the Philippine Ecumencial Peace Platform (PEPP) also criticized the Aquino government for insisting on a new framework that ignores all previous agreements.

Calang said that his group, the PEPP, had talked with both parties.  He said the NDF was waiting for the release of three detained NDF consultants to resume the talks but the government did not commit to this. (Tyrone Velez/davaotoday.com)

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