AFP supports localized peace talks

MANILA The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is always supportive of localized peace talks in addressing local root causes of insurgency, an official said on Thursday.

"The AFP fully supports the efforts of localized peace talks. It is ongoing and it was never suspended and it is gaining headway. Local peace initiatives address the local (security) problems and local root cause of insurgency," public affairs office chief, Col. Noel Detoyato Detoyato said in text message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Earlier, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said the termination of appointments of members of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) negotiating panel will pave the way for the creation of an inclusive group that will supervise localized peace engagements.

He said the composition of the new panel will be based on the Colombian model which includes representatives from different sectoral groups, local government units, and the military whose presence is essential to the peace negotiations.

Detoyato earlier said the government is now ensuring the successful integration of surrendered New People's Army (NPA) communist rebels into mainstream society.

"They are given trainings at TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority), psycho-social debriefing, housing where appropriate and needed, renumeration of surrendered firearms," he added.

Aside from this, these surrendered NPAs also have the option to join militia and regular military units aside from availing of scholarships to further educate themselves, Detoyato added.

"And they have the option to join the CAFGU (Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit), or the regular army force. In some instances, they apply for scholarships to continue their formal education. Others requests for relocation or return to their places of origin," the AFP official added.

In the first two months of 2019, a total of 608 NPA members and supporters surrendered to government troops. This can be broken down into 107 regular armed rebels, with 137 as "Milisya ng Bayan" and 364 mass supporters.

We hope to receive more rebels who want to return to the folds of the law rather than the casualties we record daily in the bloody battlefield, Detoyato said.

The NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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