PNP, clergy push for localized peace talks to end insurgency

Published July 17, 2019, 5:43 PM

by Dr. Eduardo Gonzales

By the Philippine News Agency 

The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Catholic clergy reaffirmed the collaboration of the church and the security sector to end the decades-old local insurgency.

Archbishop Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Philippine National Police (FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)
Archbishop Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Philippine National Police (PNP / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a meeting at the Archbishop’s Palace in Manila Tuesday, PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde and Manila Archbishop Antonio Cardinal Tagle discussed the prospects of pursuing localized peace talks with members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in consonance with the “whole of nation” approach to end the armed conflict that has lingered for 50 years.

Tagle suggested the formation of an “Ecumenical Fellowship” among the various religious congregations in the country similar to what he initiated during his diocesan work in Cavite.

Albayalde agreed with the prelate that “any call for peace talks must come from the broad sector of society and not just a unilateral declaration from either government or underground movement.”

The PNP is actively pursuing national government efforts to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) through a multi-sectoral undertaking.

In the same meeting, Albayalde expressed concern over the infiltration of some church organizations by the communist terrorist groups.

Both leaders vowed to continue collaboration on these issues and other issues relating to national unity and stability, with Albayalde seeking the support of the clergy to the restorative aspect of the PNP internal cleansing program.

Earlier, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) called on the public to support the Duterte administration’s move to push for a whole-of-nation approach in addressing communist insurgency by declaring the NPA persona non grata and at the same time, convincing them to lay their arms down and rejoin society.

“Help us convince the communist rebels that armed conflict is not the solution to the country’s problems. Poverty, injustice, and corruption are the usual issues that they are exploiting and yet right from the start, this government under President Duterte has set these issues as top priorities to be addressed through good governance and focused efforts to improve the plight of the people,” DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said during the Pre-SONA (State of the Nation Address) forum of the Participatory Governance Cluster (PGC) held in Cebu City recently.

Based on records from the interagency Task Force Balik-Loob, more than 8,300 rebel have yielded to the government as of December 2018. A total of 2,129 former rebels — 1,505 NPAs and 624 Militia ng Bayan — have provided with benefits and assistance from 2018 and 2019 through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) since 2018.