Senators support shift to localized peace talks

Published March 22, 2019, 7:29 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Vanne Terrazola 

Senators on Friday backed President Duterte’s move to localize the peace talks with communist rebels, as they believed that it would be more “practical” and would have greater chances of success.

Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III gestures after elected as a newly Senate President at Senate Building in Pasay city, May 21,2018.(Czar Dancel)
Senate President Vicente Sotto III

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he agrees with the Chief Executive’s termination of the national government’s negotiation with communist groups and localizing instead the peace talks.

“This idea is closer to the ground therefore more possibility of success. Talking with the Higher Ups has not bore fruit. It seems they are not really listened to by their people in the local level,” Sotto said in a text message.

Senator Panfilo Lacson echoed the same sentiment. “I would say, it (localized peace talks) is a more practical and logical strategic shift,” he said.

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

Lacson also believed Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Joma Sison no longer has control over the local communist insurgents.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan, for his part, said he respects Duterte’s prerogative “which I presume is driven by a comprehensive long-term peace, unification, and reconciliation policy and strategy.”

Duterte, on Thursday, announced that he is permanently terminating the negotiations and told the communist rebels to talk peace with his successors.

“I would like to announce that I am no longer entertaining any interventions or maybe persuasions in this democratic state of the Republic of the Philippines. My sense is that you can maybe talk to the next president of this republic one day,” Duterte said, directing the military forces to step up the operations against the Reds.

A new panel will be created instead to supervise the localized peace negotiations.