The Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) regional party in the Davao Region said it will pursue local peace talks with the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). HNP is chaired by presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
In a statement released Tuesday evening, HNP said the party’s decision will be presented for the consideration of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), headed by Compostela Valley Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy.
HNP made the announcement following a meeting of its stalwarts — Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, Governors Anthony del Rosario of Davao Del Norte, Claude Bautista of Davao Occidental, Nelson Dayanghirang of Davao Oriental and Uy — on Sunday (July 8).
HNP said its decision was in support of President Rodrigo Duterte’s efforts to pursue peace with the CPP-NPA.
“The HNP officers recognize that the localization of the peace negotiations currently being pushed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is one of the better options left for us to move forward following disconcerting developments with the formal peace process,” the HNP statement said.
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HNP said its members will pursue peace talks with the NPA at the regional level on the basis of guidelines that shall be released by the DILG.
The final guidelines for localized peace will be laid down when the Cabinet Security Cluster meets Thursday, July 12, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
Malacañang sees the localized peace talks as the alternative to the stalled peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
The military said 12 of the 23 NPA guerilla fronts operating in the country are located in the Davao Region, some of them also conducting guerrilla operations in nearby Caraga Region and Bukidnon province.
However, Maj. Ezra Balagtey, the spokesman of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), said not all of the 12 NPA fronts are fully active.
“Mahina na yung iba dahil sa mga surrender at sa mga namatay at nahuli (Others are weak because of the surrender, death and arrest,” Balagtey said on Wednesday, referring to NPA combatants.
In an interview on Monday evening, Eastern Mindanao Command commander Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been collaborating with local government units in conducting local negotiations with the NPA. He said this has resulted in the surrender of many NPA regulars and mass supporters.
Madrigal cited the programs of local governments such as the Serbisyo Caravan for remote areas of Davao Oriental, as well as outreach activities of the Compostela Valley provincial government for remote communities.
In Davao City, the Army official hailed the local government’s Peace 911 as one peace initiative aimed at achieving peace and development. (Lilian C. Mellejor/PNA)