Belgica vows continuation of localized peace talks

Senatorial aspirant and former Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Chairperson Greco Belgica on Saturday vowed to pursue localized peace initiatives to end communist insurgency in the country.

If he wins in the May 9 senatorial race, Belgica said he would continue the local peace engagement initiated by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Kapag po niloob ng Diyos na tayo ay mahalal sa pagkasenador, atin pong isusulong ang peace talks sa ating mga komunidad. Ito po ay mabisang paraan upang mas maintindihan ng ating gobyerno kung ano ang kanilang mga pangangailangan na hindi natutugunan (If I become senator, God willing, I will push for peace talks within our communities. This is an effective way for the government to understand and give the needs of rebels),” he said in a press statement.

Belgica made the commitment, as he believed it is pointless to resume the peace negotiations with Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairperson Jose Maria “Joma” Sison.

He said holding a dialogue with Sison and members of the CPP’s political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), is “another form of legal struggle in order to advance the revolutionary armed struggle and mass movement.”

“Ang mga komunistang grupo na ito ay hindi naman tapat sa pakikipag-usap sa gobyerno (This communist group is not sincere in holding peace talks with the government),” he said. “Ang nakakalungkot po dito ay habang may peace talks sa kanila ay ini-ambush naman nila ang ating mga kasundaluhan, ang opisina ng ating mga kapulisan sa kanayunan, at maging ang pag-abuso sa ating mga kababayan sa mga liblib na lugar (What is saddening is they continued to ambush the soldiers and policemen, as well as the civilians when we were holding peace talks with them).”

Belgica said the localized peace process is “more effective” in persuading the members of the CPP’s armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to surrender and reintegrate into mainstream society.

“Katulad po ng posisyon ni Pangulong Duterte, hindi po natin hahayaan na linlangin tayo ng mga makakaliwang grupo sa kanilang pagnanais na buwagin ang pamahalaan (Similar to President Duterte’s stance, we will not allow the Left-leaning groups to deceive us in order to topple the government),” he said.

On Nov. 23, 2017, the President shelved the government’s peace negotiations with the communists through Proclamation 360 due to a series of attacks waged by NPA rebels against state forces and civilians.

However, Duterte signed on Dec. 4, 2018 Executive Order (EO) 70, institutionalizing the whole-of-nation approach that will be implemented by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), in a bid to attain “inclusive and sustainable peace.”

EO 70 likewise orders local peace bodies to negotiate with communist insurgents in their respective areas.

In April, Malacañang said over 22,000 people linked to CPP-NPA-NDF have surrendered and abandoned the local armed struggle since 2016.

Duterte, in a taped interview with Pastor Apollo Quiboloy aired over SMNI on Friday, said the resumption of peace negotiations with the communist movement is now up to the next president.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The NDF has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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