Army welcomes Mayor Sara Duterte’s talks with NPA

Mar. 01, 2017

Brig. General Gilbert Gapay, commander of the anti-terror unit Task Force Haribon ( file photo)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Third update as of 11:11 am, March 2, 2017)—A government anti-terrorist unit here said it welcomed the upcoming talks of Mayor Sara Duterte and the New People’s Army, armed-wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Brigadier General Gilbert Gapay, commander of Task Force Haribon said the Mayor’s offer to the rebel group ​”​is also in line ​with our efforts to obtain lasting peace, not only in the city and region, but (in) the whole country as well.”

“For our part, we could ease up the pressure of operation to the NPA only to give way on this peace talk that the Mayor is offering,” Gapay said.

On Feb. 20, Mayor Duterte offered peace to the rebel group after a series of attacks by the NPAs in the hinterlands of the city.

Duterte said she is offering her “hand in peace to the NPA” and is willing to listen to them if they are willing to talk.

Six days later, the NPA accepted the Mayor’s offer saying that they will be suspending their operations for a few hours to cater the talk.

Without mentioning any agenda, NPA Southern Mindanao Operations Command spokesman Rigoberto Sanchez said: “The NPA would gladly discuss any matter that she would like to take up with the revolutionary movement, the duties and responsibilities of the people’s democratic government, the role of the NPA, the on-going all-out war of the AFP and the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.”

However, should the talk proceed, Gapay said the Army wants the NPA to stop “extortion activities, harassment to security forces, and usage of IEDs.”

“She (Duterte) wants to hear from the NPAs kung ano talaga ang gusto nila para malaman natin kung ano ang matulong natin sa kanila (if what they wanted and we would know if what help we could give to them),” Gapay said.

The mayor, in her statement, also said that she wanted to talk to the NPA as a group, not individuals who will volunteer to surrender.

“We advice them (city mayor’s office) that first, we should be sure that we would be talking to the right group, not one by one,” Gapay said.

“So sisiguraduhin natin na yung kausap nya ay ang tamang grupo (So we will ensure that we would be talking to the right group),” Gapay added.

The NPA’s response was received by the Mayor’s office and said they will soon issue a statement.

If the local peace initiatives will be in place, Gapay said they will have temporary suspension of military operations in the areas where it will be held.

But Sanchez cautioned that Duterte’s statement that she will “leave it everything to the AFP…” does not bode well for the peace talks. “Mayor Sara must know by now that the AFP is a corrupt, wily and mercenary organization that makes a mockery of the peace process and continuously sabotages her father’s and the NDFP’s efforts at peace every chance it gets,” Sanchez said.

The NDF however is likely to decline any talks with a “localized” concept.

In a statement years back, former NDF Chairperson Louis Jalandoni said such talks “(i)s actually an old worn-out futile attempt of the reactionary government to split the revolutionary movement and deceive the people.”

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