DAVAO City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio convened on Tuesday, October 24, the first meeting of the Davao City Local Peace Committee (DC Peace), the committee she created to try to win over the New People's Army (NPA) to lay down their arms and live in peace in the city by reaching out to the marginalized who most often are recruited to take up arms.
The Executive Order No. 34 series of 2017 creating the committee calls for a localized peace process that is "open, empowering, inclusive and consultative" in order to locally address the issues and concerns covering the insurgency, especially those in the hinterland who comprise the bulk of the rebel's armed forces simply because of inaccessibility to government social welfare and development services.
While it is not written in the EO, the mayor had earlier said that the committee will only have one year to work out a localized peace negotiation, so that nothing is crafted within a year, then a new approach can be taken.
Joining Duterte-Carpio in the DC-Peace are lawyer Raul Nadela, Head of the Secretariat; Archbishop Romulo Valles, Member; Judge Ridgway Tanjili (ret), Chair; lawyer Elisa Lapina of the City Legal Office, Member; PunongBgy. Jessielito Areja, Member; Maria Luisa Bermudo of the City Social Services and Development Office, Member; with Irene Santiago as technical adviser.
To address the peace issue at its roots while the national government tries to forge a peace agreement among the high-ranking officials of the rebels is indeed a laudable task, considering that the unrest is local and the issues are within the jurisdiction of the local government.
Poverty is best addressed at the grassroots by the very people elected by the local to provide them leadership and lead them to development. The same with lack of access to basic services and opportunities.
Once these are threshed out and programs and projects are designed and implemented to ensure the delivery of appropriate interventions, then there is no reason for anyone to take up arms. To continue doing so will expose the movement as espousing only the interest of their leaders who are not even of the place.
This DC-Peace is all about taking the cudgels for the downtrodden and leading them to a path where they can grow and not stymied as they most often are when they themselves are made to take up arms and block any development that comes their way.
By engaging with locals, both rebels and government, are able to lay down the real situation and the real needs. Let those interested only in destabilization be exposed as they are and let peace reign for the real stakeholders -- the Dabawenyos and their neighbors -- from all spectrum of society.