Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte (davaotoday.com file photo)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Updated as of 8:39 pm) – The New People’s Army is accepting the offer of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte to talk with her following a series of armed clashes between guerrilla fighters and government troops in the city’s outskirts.

In an emailed statement to the media, Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesman for the NPA Southern Mindanao Operations Command said the Regional Operations Command of the NPA is “suspending for a few hours the NPA operations and ordering any NPA camp in National Democratic Front of the Philippines territories in Davao City and nearby areas to host the talks with her at a mutually agreed time and date.”

“The NPA would gladly discuss any matter that she would like to take up with the revolutionary movement, the duties and responsibilities of the people’s democratic government, the role of the NPA, the on-going all-out war of the AFP and the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations,” Sanchez said.

The City Information Office said the mayor has already read the reply of the NPA to her previous offer, but is yet to come up with a statement.

“Right now she is carefully looking into it and will come up with a statement in the coming days,” Jefry Tupas, CIO head told reporters Sunday.

Duterte offered to talk with the NPA last week following the series of  tactical offensives of the 1st Pulang Bagani Battalion-NPA launched last February 16 in Paquibato and Calinan districts here where several government troops were killed and wounded.

The NPA said “more troops were again hit by NPA attritive offensives in Toril and Paquibato districts on February 21 and 22.”

In a statement on Feb. 20, Duterte said: “I am offering my hand in peace to the New People’s Army.”

Duterte said she is willing to listen to the NPA “if the NPA is willing to talk.”

Sanchez added that the revolutionary forces “recognize Duterte’s willingness to talk to the NPA as a group and not to individuals amid the growing public clamor to resume the suspended GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and achieve substantial gains in the peace process.”

“The NPA in the region, however, finds it ominous that as per the GRP Presidential daughter’s stern warning that should the NPA decline her gesture, a viable alternative would be to “leave it everything to the AFP…” Mayor Sara must know by now that the AFP is a corrupt, wily and mercenary organization that makes a mockery of the peace process and continuously sabotages her father’s and the NDFP’s efforts at peace every chance it gets,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez added they are optimistic that the city mayor “would judiciously discern the realities of the civil war, not merely through the statistics of AFP casualties and its civilian victims but by seeing the imperative to address the roots of the armed conflict.”

“Certainly, the heavy burden being borne every single day by Filipinos because of the continued exploitation of the oligarchs and US imperialism prods the masses and the revolutionary forces to wage and advance the people’s war.” he said. (davaotoday.com)

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