By Tara Yap
ILOILO CITY—The Philippine Army is eyeing localized peace talks with the New People’s Army (NPA) in Panay Island.
“Local peace talks are more appropriate. In every area, there is different situation and different social problems,” explained Col. Leo Peña, acting commander of the 301st Infantry Brigade (301 IB).
“We need to get the involvement of local chief executives,” Peña added.
The 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), led by Brig. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, held dialogues with 39 former NPA rebels at Camp Hernandez, 301 IB’s headquarters in Dingle town, Iloilo province.
Jose Maria Sison, the founder of the NPA’s mother organization Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), threatened to stop negotiating with the Duterte administration and called for the ouster of President Duterte.
Peña said the army is still in the advocacy stage and will bring the proposal to the Western Visayas Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), chaired by Guimaras Gov. Samuel Gumarin.
Based on assessment of the 3ID, the number of NPA rebels is still dwindling. There are at least 150 active NPA rebels in Panay Island, which consists of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, and Iloilo provinces.
Meanwhile, the 3ID is urging former NPA rebels to create an organization to boost the ir integration program as these rebels return to the government fold.