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Senators support localized peace talks

Some senators have expressed their support for the Duterte administration’s proposed localized peace talks with communist rebels.

In a text message on Friday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the localized version of peace negotiations has a much higher chance of success rather than at the national level.

“I will support and concur with localized peace talks. This idea is closer to the ground therefore more possibility of success,” Sotto said.

“Talking with the higher ups have not borne fruit. It seems they are not really listened to by their people in the local level,” Sotto added.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday officially announced the permanent termination of the peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

The President mentioned the government’s preference for localized peace engagements.

Senator Panfilo Lacson said localizing peace talks is a more practical and logical strategic shift.

“Having said that, different geographical areas have different insurgency situations involving the CPP/NPA in terms of influence, strengths, and threats,” Lacson said.

“Even our security forces claim that only few local political units still feel the threats and presence of the NPA armed regulars. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to address the peace talks at the national level,” Lacson added.

Senator Gringo Honasan II, meanwhile, said it is the prerogative of the executive to prefer localized peace engagements, which he said may be driven by a “comprehensive long-term peace, unification, and reconciliation policy and strategy.”

On Wednesday, Malacañang announced the termination of the appointments of government peace negotiators with communist rebels.

Among those whose appointment papers were terminated include that of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III as chief government negotiator, and government peace panel members Antonio Arellano, Hernani Braganza, Angela Librado-Trinidad and Rene Sarmiento.

On Nov. 23, 2017, Duterte signed Proclamation 360 declaring the termination of peace negotiations with the communists, citing the CPP-NPA-NDF’s supposed failure to show sincerity to the peace process.

In December 2018, Duterte issued EO 70 which institutionalized a whole-of-nation approach in attaining peace and created a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. (PNA)

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