Davao peace body to reach out to 3 NPA leaders

THE Davao City Peace Committee targets to talk to three New People's Army (NPA) commanders working within Davao City for the localized peace talks.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio bared this on Tuesday, October 24, after her attendance in the first meeting of the members and convener of the Davao City Peace Committee (DC-Peace), which was created through and executive order and aligned with the general welfare act stipulated under the Local Government Code.

"There were three identified commanders in Davao City which we target to reach out, and explore if they like to have localized talks," she said.
Duterte-Carpio, during the meeting, said a committee member has already been assigned to initiate talks with the three NPA commanders whose names are not disclosed since it is also not their real names.

Reaching out to the three commanders is the DC-Peace's initial move on the talks.

She said starting Wednesday, October 25, until November 17, the assigned date of the next DC-Peace meeting, they will wait if there will be a positive or negative feedback from the commanders through the report of the designated person to reach out to them.

The mayor said that Davao City will also be the covered area of the talks.

"All of the issues will only be about Davao City. For those who are from Compostela Valley we will endeavor to return them to their local government unit, if they are interested to work with the government because what we are asking from them is not to surrender but we are asking them to sit with us and talk," she added.

She also said that the issues of area by area operation of NPA is not limited to one LGU was raised and she said this concern will be taken in consideration during the talk with the NPA commanders.

She added that they expect the identified three commanders to have control with their men. But she did not discount that changes may also happen in the leadership.

"We expect them to have control with the people under them, but it can change depending on how we reach out to them. As of the moment we will tap these three identified commanders under Davao City just to start the localized peace talks," she added.

Duterte-Carpio said there is a possibility of the declaration of the ceasefire from the military but it will only happen if the DC-Peace will recommend it and also if the talks starts.

"We will not recommend the suspension military operations if there is still no concrete talks. But once the talks will commence, we will wait for the committee to request for the suspension of the military operations but right now it is not brought up yet," she said.

It can be observed that the city mayor did not include military as part of the talks as she wants the committee to become a civilian initiative.

Meanwhile, it was revealed that the convener or consultant which the mayor has talked to these past months whom she described as well-versed in community civil relations is Irene Santiago, the chair of the Government Implementing Panel for the GPH-MILF Peace Accord.

Duterte-Carpio said Santiago, during the meeting, suggested for a peace building workshop for the committee members so that the members will understand how to start peace talks.

As to the objection of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process to the localized talks, Duterte-Carpio said the committee will write a letter to Secretary Jesus Dureza to explain about the localized peace talks initiative being done in the city.

"Initially we will write the letter and explain what we are doing here. We have a lawyer as one of the committee member and she said that there is no law prohibiting an LGU to have a localized peace talks, in fact we have the basis under the general welfare code of the local government code, this in an initiative of the LGU supported by the executive," she said.

The city mayor said the different roles of each committee members were already identified during the meeting.

The first DC-Peace meeting was attended by all of the committee members, Davao City Social Services and Development Office head Maria Luisa Bermudo, Davao City Legal Office representative lawyer Elisa Lapiña, Archbishop Romulo Valles, Barangay Malabog Chief Jessielito Areja, and it was also attended by the committee chair retired judge Ridgeway Tanjili.

The DC-Peace Committee is given a year to conduct fruitful talks with the NPAs.
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