DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte broke her silence over the latest skirmishes between the government troops and the New People’s Army in the outskirts in Davao City.
“I am offering my hand in peace to the New People’s Army,” Duterte said in a statement on Monday.
Duterte said she is willing to listen to the NPA “if the NPA is willing to talk.”
Since the government announced all-out war against the communist group, the Armed Forces of the Philippines engaged clashes with the NPA all over the country.
On Feb. 17, two soldiers were reportedly killed in an encounter with the NPA in Paquibato district, Davao City.
The statement of Duterte to talk with the NPA, however, comes with a condition, that they should talk as a group.
“My only condition, at this point is, I want to talk to them as a group,” Duterte said adding that, “I will not accept individuals who want to voluntarily surrender.”
“I have a plan but I want to listen first to what you have to say,” she added.
However, Duterte admitted that her authority would only be limited to her area of responsibility which is the Davao City.
Ending the statement, Duterte told the NPA to “think about this offer seriously since it will benefit you, our fellow Dabawenyos, and our beloved city.”
Meanwhile, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the National Democratic Front of the Philippines might have “pushed the envelope too fast and too soon in demanding the full release of political prisoners prior to any signed agreement and for lifting the ceasefire ahead of their deadline.”
Abella said some of the “compelling reasons” that need to be provided for talks to resume would include the stopping the collection of the revolutionary tax, stopping of the ambushes on military personnel and burning of property and stopping “provocative and hostile actions.”
“These actions from NDF may provide compelling reason and could put at ease, to some extent, the apprehension of the military and the Administration. After all when guns are silent we can better listen to each other,” Abella said.
But in a previous statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines said it is the President who “arbitrarily terminated the peace talks.”
“He has wasted the achievements attained in peace talks over the past few months. He has crushed the people’s aspiration to carry out peace negotiations as a means of resolving the roots of the ongoing civil war,” the CPP said in its statement on February 8.
The CPP Central Committee and the NPA’s National Operations Command announced the termination of its unilateral ceasefire after the government failed to fulfill its promise to release political prisoners in compliance with the signed agreement on CARHRIHL or the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.
It added that the government troops “encroached” on territories of the NPA while the ceasefire was still standing. (davaotoday.com)