Solon rejects localized peace talks with communists

Published July 15, 2018, 5:50 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

A progressive lawmaker rejected on Sunday the Duterte government’s proposed localized peace talks, saying that it would only become a “money-making venture” for unscrupulous local government units (LGUs), the military and the police.

Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna Party list Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)
Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna Party list Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate cited as example the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) P192.5-million PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAan (Pamana) program in Maguindanao.

“A classic case in point is what the AFP did with the P192.5-million Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana) program in Maguindanao that had been released in 2012 for supposed road projects under the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program but have remained unimplemented,” he said in a statement.

He noted that presidential peace adviser Jesus G. Dureza has sought the return of the already “downloaded” P192.5 million of DAP funds from the AFP for the nonimplementation of the P100-million concreting of the Lamud-Ganassi-Biarong road in the municipality of South Upi and the P150-million concreting of the Makir-Sibuto-Kinabaka road in the municipality of Datu Odin Sinsuat.

The projects were supposed to have been implemented in the previous administration starting July 2012, he said.

“These types of anomalies along with the collection of bounty for fake surrenderers

would become rampant with the supposed localization of peace talks,” Zarate said.

He expressed concern that the localized peace talks would breathe life into the previous Aquino administration’s supposed money-making schemes against the activists and government critics.

“Money-making schemes similar to the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Joint Order No. 14-2012 during the time of President Benigno Aquino III which lists alleged “235 wanted communists” with a total monetary reward of P466.88 million would be revitalized,” he said.

He recalled that during the previous governments, the so-called Order of Battle or hitlist was being used against government critics and activists.

“Noon ay 1,206 naging biktima ng extrajudicial killings at 206 naman ang naging biktima ng sapilitang pagkawala dahil sa Oplan Bantay Laya pero hanggang sa ngayon ay patuloy pa rin ang mga pagpatay at sapilitang pagpapawala sa ilalim ng Oplan Kapayapaan (Before, 1,206 became victims of extrajudicial killings and 206 were victims of enforced disappearances because of Oplan Bantay Laya, but until now killings and enforced disappearances continue under Oplan Kapayapaan), ” Zarate said.

Believing that the piece-meal, localized peace talks will not work, Zarate urged the government to immediately resume the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

“Itigil na itong planong ‘localized peace talks’ dahil pagkakakitaan lang ito ng mga tiwaling miyembro ng AFP, PNP at LGUs. Hindi nito malulutas ang pangkalahatang problema ng sambayanang Pilipino, gaya ng kawalan ng lupa, kahirapan at iba pang pambansang suliranin. (This planned localized peace talks should be stopped because this will only become as money-making business for scrupulous members of the AFP, PNP and LGUs. This will not solve the problems of Filipino people like the landlessness, poverty and other national problems),” he said.

Just outside the top 10 is former president and current Pampanga 2nd district Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with P465 million.

Ironically, some of Romero’s fellow party-list representatives comprise a cluster of the poorest congressmen.

Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago posted a net worth of P75,800, the least in terms of the 2017 SALNs.

Elago’s fellow Makabayan bloc solons posted the following net worth: Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas, P514,660; ACT-Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro, P1.388 million; and Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate, P1.645 million.