Localized peace talks with Reds more practical: Lacson

MANILA Following the breakdown of peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF), Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday said localized peace initiatives with communist rebels is the way to go forward because it is more practical, cheaper and faster to conduct.

Besides being practical and easier to implement, Lacson, who was also a former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, gave three other reasons why he favors local peace talks over the current negotiations.

Lacson said paramount among them is that Jose Maria Sison, the founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), no longer has control over the ground units of the New People's Army (NPA), the CPP's armed wing.

Pangalawa, iba-iba naman ang sitwasyon at pwersa nila sa ibat-ibang lalawigan at rehiyon, kaya dapat lang na iba-iba rin ang trato sa mga ito (NPA units operate under different circumstances and have different strengths in the provinces and regions. So, it is just proper that each unit should be treated differently), he said in a statement.

Pangatlo, mas alam ng mga lokal na pamahalaaan ang mga pangangailangan ng mga rebelde sa kani-kanilang lugar (Local government officials understand better the needs of the rebels in their respective areas), Lacson said.

He added that close relatives and friends of rebel fighters could also be tapped to mediate in local talks.

And in the event that rebels decide to return to the fold of the law, Lacson said local officials also know better what the rebels would need to be productive in their community.

However, the senator said localized peace talks should have well-defined guidelines and parameters, as well as the full support of the national government, for it to succeed.

The possibility of localized peace talks was raised after the NDF said it would rather oust President Rodrigo Duterte than return to the negotiating table.

Sison said they are withdrawing from the negotiations after Duterte insisted on certain conditions for the resumption of peace talks, including the holding of talks in the Philippines, among others.

The NDF chief opposed the plan, fearing that they could be held hostage should they conduct the talks in the country since Duterte controls all agencies of government.

Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said it has no choice but to push for localized peace initiatives following the NDF's pronouncements.

The DILG noted that a localized form of peace talks might even encourage greater participation from NPA rebels. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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