By Yas Ocampo
DAVAO CITY — The Southern Mindanao Regional Command of the New People’s Army (NPA-FSMR) said it rejected the proposal of the government to conduct localized peace talks and accused the Duterte administration of veiling the failure of the peace talks in the guise of development projects.
NDFP-SMR spokesperson Rubi del Mundo accused the government of giving up on democratic discourse and called the localized peace talks as “surrender packages.”
“The idea of peace negotiations that are ‘nationally orchestrated, centrally directed and locally supervised and implemented’ is but a smokescreen to obscure the fact that Duterte has never been serious in addressing the root causes of the Filipino people’s armed resistance and is only predisposed in the complete capitulation of the revolutionary movement,” del Mundo said.
Del Mundo said that in Southern Mindanao, particularly in Duterte’s hometown Davao City, NPA forces have consistently declined all “invitations” for localized peace talks, noting that the “gestures” are better directed at supporting the GRP-NDFP negotiations instead.
“All Red commanders and fighters of all units of the New People’s Army in the country are behind their national leadership in supporting the negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP panels in a foreign venue,” del Mundo said.
“In advocating for localized peace talks, Duterte, in truth, appeals to the corrupt nature of his fellow bureaucrat capitalists by encouraging them to subvert previously agreed-upon guidelines and machineries and the advances borne out of the past 25 years,” del Mundo said.
Del Mundo added that in Davao City, Mayor Sara Duterte initially pushed for localized talks.
However, the plan to talk with rebels inside the city changed with President Rodrigo Duterte declaring the Communist movement as terrorists made the city change tactics to instead pursue a development project approach in the hinterlands.
In Davao City, pockets of hinterlands are still infested with rebellion, particularly in areas such as the Paquibato District.
The revised development proposal attempts to speak with stakeholders to determine the needs of the impoverished portion of the city.