The military is hoping that the proposed localized peace talks with the National Democratic Front and its armed unit, the New People’s Army, will eventually result in a lasting peace agreement as the government must focus also in providing programs in the so-called conflict-affected areas.
At the AFP-PNP press briefing at the Royal Mandaya Hotel yesterday, Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil-Military Operations deputy chief of staff and representative of the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict, confirmed the creation of localized peace panels as their membership and tasks are being finalized.
“They (members of the localized peace panels) will talk to the local leaders of the NPA,” said Parlade, pointing out that the communities will also be part of the discussions.
He said the government has also been implementing key programs like livelihood, infrastructure and similar endeavors to find ways to solve injustices committed on the communities. “We want to reach out to the NPA in the hinterlands through the nuns, priests, local government (units) … you can line in the effort on the localized peace talks,” he said.
He said localized peace talks are better because local leaders understand the issues, but national leaders of the government must support this initiative as well as simultaneously provide services to the communities.
He said the concept of the national task force was based on the Peace 911 initiative of the city government.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte recently signed the establishment of the national task force to address the armed conflict.
Parlade pointed out that based on the mandate of the task force, the solution to the insurgency will not on ly be armed campaign, but key development programs as well as the participation of the private sector.
Initially, he said, a similar undertaking has succeeded in some areas like Mindoro and part of Bicol where rebels eventually surrendered.
“So that if there are issues in the region and they can’t handle these (so it will) so … it’s the national cluster on the amnesty and legal separation that will discuss these things, “ he said.
The good thing about the initiative, he added, is that unlike before, the President is on top of the task force and all the agencies are mandated to support it through programs in conflict-affected areas.