DAVAO CITY, Philippines — City Mayor Sara Duterte on Wednesday morning gave a belated response to the New People’s Army’s earlier plan to hold talks with her, saying she is deferring to the results of the ongoing fourth round of peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in the Netherlands.
“In view of this recent development, I would like to put on hold, in the meantime, our agreement to conduct localized peace talks here in Davao City. Instead, let us wait and see how the efforts of the national government to end the insurgency problem will unfold,” Duterte said.
On February 26, the NPA’s Regional Operations Command in Southern Mindanao said it “reciprocates the gesture made by GRP Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte by suspending for a few hours the NPA operations and ordering any NPA camp in NDF territories in Davao City and nearby areas to host the talks with her at a mutually agreed time and date.”
In a separate statement, NPA Southern Mindanao Spokesperson Rigoberto Sanchez also clarified that while it was willing to meet with Duterte, it was not in a manner of holding localized peace talks with her as the NDFP national leadership “is still the negotiating entity in the peace process.”
In her Wednesday statement, Duterte said “(T)he City Government of Davao remains aggressive in this worthwhile pursuit of a lasting peace, knowing very well that only after we are able to claim peace that we can achieve justice, transform our communities, and empower and liberate our people.”
She also said that she shared the position of the national government, urging the NPA to end the “taxation” or “extortion activities.”
She also said the NPA must “release all captured soldiers and police, and must cease from claiming so-called revolutionary territories,” the Presidential daughter said.
Dan Borjal, media officer of the National Democratic Front peace panel said the concerns raised by Mayor Duterte are currently being tackled in this round of talks.
Borjal cited the statement of NPA Southern Mindanao Spokesperson Rigoberto Sanchez in early March welcoming the offer of Mayor Duterte for localized peace talks.
“The NPA spokesperson said that while he welcomed the mayor’s offer, the NPA Command stands by the position that the designated NDFP panel is the negotiating entity at the national level and responsible for the whole peace negotiations with ts counterpart on the side of the GRP,” he told Davao Today in an email.
Borjal added: “Since the fourth round of formal talks are currently going on, we must allow it to take its course. The issues and concerns that the mayor has raised are being tackled in this round. Let us wait for the results.” (With reports from Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano/davaotoday.com)