MANILA

Defense chief says localized peace talks led to rebels' surrender

DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday, December 28, expressed support for the localized peace talks with the communist movement, which he stressed has resulted in the surrender of more than 8,000 rebels.

Speaking to Palace reporters, Lorenzana said it was a "good" thing that the Duterte government had initiated the negotiations with communists at the local level.

He said the communist guerillas who surrendered came from Davao Region, Masbate, Legazpi, and Samar.

"Maganda. Since the implementation of the localized peace talks, marami na tayong na-achieve. Buong taon, 8,000 na 'yung bumaba (It's good. Since the implementation of the localized peace talks, we have achieved many accomplishments. Around 8,000 communists rebels have surrendered this year)," the Defense chief said.

"So it is a nationwide phenomenon. Mukhang kumalat na 'yung balita na ang mga former rebels, maganda ang trato ng gobyerno sa kanila (Perhaps, communists have already received the good news that former rebels were fairly treated by the government). They're given the benefits and assistance so it is encouraging a lot of rebels to come down," he added.

On November 23, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation 360, formally scrapping the peace talks between state peace negotiators and consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Duterte called off the peace negotiations following the string of attacks by the New People's Army (NPA), CPP's armed wing, against the government forces.

Proclamation 360 states that the peace talks were terminated because "in spite of the best efforts exerted by this administration, the NDF-CPP-NPA failed to show its sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peace negotiations as it engaged in acts of violence and hostilities, endangering the lives and properties of innocent people."

On December 4, Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) 70, directing the national task force delegated to end the communist insurgency to pursue local peace negotiations.

But prior to the signing of EO 70, Lorenzana said the government already began conducting local peace talks as early as February.

Lorenzana said the current administration is offering a "complete package" to communist insurgents who want to join the government in oursuing peace and order in the country.

"Binibigyan natin ng kaukulang assistance from the government like housing, 'yung livelihood nila saka schooling of the kids, medical care. 'Yung Tesda (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority), they are going to train these people for skills. At hindi lang 'yun, hindi lang sila iti-train kundi ihahanap din sila ng trabaho pagkatapos na silang mag-training," he said.

(They are receiving assistance from the government, like housing, livelihood, and schooling of the kids, as well as medical care. The Tesda is also training these people for skills. After training, Tesda will also help them find jobs.)

"So this is a complete package that we are giving to those who are coming down, 'yung mga tinatawag nating (those we call) former rebels that will join the government, that will join the community so that they can live also normally within their communities," he added. (SunStar Philippines)


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